- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Viking; 1st edition (June 7, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0525428089
- ISBN-13: 978-0525428084
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (215 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future 1st Edition
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Praise for The Inevitable
"Anyone can claim to be a prophet, a fortune teller, or a futurist, and plenty of people do. What makes Kevin Kelly different is that he's right. In this book, you're swept along by his clear prose and unassailable arguments until it finally hits you: The technological, cultural, and societal changes he’s foreseeing really are inevitable. It’s like having a crystal ball, only without the risk of shattering."
—David Pogue, Yahoo Tech
"This book offers profound insight into what happens (soon!) when intelligence flows as easily into objects as electricity."
—Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail
“How will the future be made? Kevin Kelly argues that the sequence of events ensuing from technical innovation has its own momentum . . . and that our best strategy is to understand and embrace it. Whether you find this prospect wonderful or terrifying, you will want to read this extremely thought-provoking book.”
—Brian Eno, musician and composer
"Kevin Kelly has been predicting our technological future with uncanny prescience for years. Now he's given us a glimpse of how the next three decades will unfold with The Inevitable, a book jam-packed with insight, ideas, and optimism."
—Ernest Cline, author of Ready Player One
"As exhilarating as the most outlandish science fiction novel, but based on very real trends. Kevin Kelly is the perfect tour guide for this life-changing future."
—Mark Frauenfelder, Boing Boing
"Creating a fictional future is easy; Kevin Kelly makes a habit of doing the difficult by showing us where we're actually going. The Inevitable is an eye-opening roadmap for what lies ahead. Science fiction is on its way to becoming science fact."
—Hugh Howey, author of Wool
—Marc Andreessen, co-founder Andreessen Horowitz
About the Author
Kevin Kelly helped launch Wired magazine and was its executive editor for its first seven years. He has written for The New York Times, The Economist, Science, Time, and The Wall Street Journal among many other publications. His previous books include Out of Control, New Rules for the New Economy, Cool Tools, and What Technology Wants. Currently Senior Maverick at Wired, Kelly lives in Pacifica, California.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is a very informative book about the great deal that has happened over the past three decades, as well as latest developments and trends in IT, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, and the whole range of such new technologies. The reader is also taken on a trip to see what the author thinks is likely to follow in the next three decades. For those of us who may find it difficult to follow the developments that have surged ahead at lightning speed, this is a very useful book that helps us to start catching up.
The author is evidently a huge fan of the many possibilities that the use of IT has opened up. There is a lot of hype and hoopla in the account that he sets out. That is all good. However, noting his intimate knowledge of the subject, I am rather disappointed that he has not tried to look more into issues (personal, social, between generations, etc) that may arise, or have arisen, as we try to adjust to the dramatic changes that are taking place at such enormous speeds.
Because we are so immersed in the technologies that surround us, grasping the effects that they produce is not easy. We need someone like Kelly to highlight these effects to be able to understand their relevance.
Pause and consider for a moment that most of the important technologies that will dominate our lives 30 years from now, have not been invented. (Pause.) Add to this the effect of the ongoing development of the technologies we use all the time.
Not too long ago, all of us decided that we could not live another day without a smartphone. Only a decade ago this need would have dumbfounded us. Today, as I write this column, I am frustrated because the network is slow: but not too long ago we never had a network. Few imagined the miracle the web would become. “The accretion of tiny marvels can numb us to the arrival of the stupendous,” Kelly observes.
Add to this, that new technologies require endless upgrades. Even if you don’t actively choose to upgrade and so change the app you have become so used to using, continual upgrades are so essential to technology systems that they are now automatic. In the background, the machines we use upgrade themselves, slowly changing their features over time. This change happens gradually, so we don’t notice the evolution.
But the cycle of obsolescence is accelerating continuously, as we can see from the latest new cell phone, computer or app. Soon we won’t have time to master anything before it is displaced. “No matter how long you have been using a tool, endless upgrades make you into a newbie—the new user often seen as clueless,” say Kelly
Every technology we use is in a state “becoming”: it is never complete. We will remain in the newbie state for the rest of our lives.
From any window onto the internet, your phone, tablet or computer, you can get an overwhelming variety of music and video, a constantly evolving encyclopaedia, weather forecasts, satellite images of any place on earth, up-to-the-minute news from anywhere in the world, road maps with driving directions, real-time share quotes, and the list goes on.
Not too long ago, no one would have been silly enough to suggest this vision of the near future. After all, there simply wasn’t and still isn’t enough money in all the investment firms in the entire world to fund such a development.
What has transpired one study found, is that only 40 percent of the web is commercially manufactured. The rest is a function of duty or passion. All the content offered by Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter was not created by their staff, but by their audience.
“If we have learned anything in the past three decades,” Kelly reminds us, “it is that the impossible is more plausible than it appears.”
It is hard to imagine anything that could change our lives as much as cheap, powerful, ubiquitous artificial intelligence (AI). This is a computer programmed not only to host and catalogue information, but more importantly to constantly learn from the information and arrive at new conclusions.
In 2015, researchers at DeepMind published a report describing how they taught an AI to learn to play 1980s-era arcade video games, like Video Pinball. They didn’t teach the computer how to play the games, but how to learn to play the games. This is the profound difference AI offers.
After half an hour, the computer missed only once every four times. By the 300th game it played, an hour later, it never missed. AIs like this one become smarter all the time, unlike human players.
This is not a trend we might see in the future, it is here already. Consider IBM’s Watson, a computer built on AI that can continuously absorb bodies of information far too large for any human to absorb, let alone gather. This collection of ongoing knowledge is being put to medical use as a medical diagnostic tool. “Most of the previous attempts to make a diagnostic AI have been pathetic failures, but Watson really works,” says Kelly. Soon Watson will be the world’s best diagnostician.
And the race for AI has only just begun in earnest. AI has attracted more than $18 billion in investments since 2009. Yahoo!, Intel, Dropbox, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter have all purchased AI companies since 2014. In 2014 alone more than $2 billion was invested in 322 companies with AI-like technology.
The business opportunities flowing from AI will take this form: find something that can be made better by adding AI to it.
In the legal field, it could be used to uncover evidence from mountains of documents to discern inconsistencies between cases, and then have it suggest legal arguments. In the field of investment this is already happening. Companies such as Betterment or Wealthfront optimize tax strategies and balance holdings between portfolios. These are the sorts of things a professional money manager might do once a year, but the AI will do it every day, or every hour.
AI can be added to laundry so that clothes “tell” the washing machines how they want to be washed and the wash cycle would adjust itself to the contents of each load.
Rather than using AI to improve its search capacity, Google is using search to make its AI better. Each of the 3 billion queries that Google conducts each day is “teaching” the AI process. Consider what another 10 years of improvements to its AI algorithms, plus a thousand times more data and a hundred times more computing resources, will do to Google’s unrivalled AI. “My prediction: By 2026, Google’s main product will not be search but AI,” Kelly suggests.
There are twelve trends technological forces identified by Kelly in this very important book. Anyone who wishes to have a profound insight into the trends that will significantly impact our future, would do well to read ‘The Inevitable’ carefully.
Readability Light ---+ Serious
Insights High +---- Low
Practical High ---+- Low
*Ian Mann of Gateways consults internationally on leadership and strategy and is the author of the soon to be released ‘Executive Update’.
This is a book that whose ideas are meant to be slowly pondered on, not to be gobbled up quickly. As in his previous works there is an underlying sense that technology has a will of its own, it wants to go in a certain direction which we would do well to align with. What I found most illustrative were the scenarios at the end of each chapter where he shows what life in the future looks like after the technological force described in it has had enough time to play out, a positive take on what popular TV shows like Black Mirror paint in a very dark way.
The optimism that pervades the book requires the reader to take the long view, to look beyond the present state. At a time when we are bombarded with news stories about the disappearance of privacy, the surveillance state, cyberwarfare, and the automation of millions of jobs out of existence Kelly can come across as a hopeless Pollyanna, and when he claims that "propaganda is less effective in a world of screens, because while misinformation travels as fast as electrons corrections do too" calling this naive is too soft a word after a US election where fake news played a big role and traditional fact checking could not penetrate the social media bubbles we now live in. But like Kelly says when describing the Becoming force, technology is still evolving and just because we don't have a solution today to these problems doesn't mean that they will not eventually arise after these forces have run their course. With that confidence we can best appreciate what Kelly has to say.
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