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The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  8,520 ratings  ·  935 reviews
From one of our leading technology thinkers and writers, a guide through the twelve technological imperatives that will shape the next thirty years and transform our lives

Much of what will happen in the next thirty years is inevitable, driven by technological trends that are already in motion. In this fascinating, provocative new book, Kevin Kelly provides an optimistic ro
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published June 7th 2016 by Viking
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Michael David Cobb Governments will be reactive at the speed they can be, which net net will be slower than that of businesses, especially the businesses involved in dev…moreGovernments will be reactive at the speed they can be, which net net will be slower than that of businesses, especially the businesses involved in developing these ideas into technologies along the lines Kelly describes. But when you consider how many human beings will be attached to the technologies, the capabilities they will give to all humanity will be the superset of what governments do and approve.

The best analogy I can give is this: Imagine that the new technology is 'television'. Well then you could go back to Orwell about 'mass communications' as it was then understood and ask how will the government use this for propaganda? Or how will they censor this medium. Now jump to the reality of YouTube and see that a technology that enables billions of people is something a government is not particularly in control of. What any government does is nothing compared to what humanity does.

How would the Chinese government agree with the Brazilian government on how to censor the Internet? The question is moot because governments will never agree enough to curtail what lies beyond their jurisdiction and capability. Governments would have to literally make computer chips illegal and try to destroy trillions of them in order to stop The Inevitable.(less)

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Jun 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Part I - The Inspiring Part
While I have mixed opinions of many of the ideas in The Inevitable, this particular paragraph stuck out as insightful and, for anyone interested in building products, potentially inspirational for some good ideas.

"Three generations ago, many a tinkerer struck it rich by taking a tool and making an electric version. Take a manual pump; electrify it. Find a hand-wringer washer; electrify it. The entrepreneurs didn't need to generate the electricity; they bought it from t
Charles Franklin
May 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book both freaked me out and intrigued me because it showcased a future that blew my mind unlike any other book has before. Kevin Kelly presents a view of the future that is overly optimistic (despite my secret fear that robots will take all of our jobs and that every move will be tracked by a government agency that wants to control us). Kelly says that we shouldn't fight against the future, rather we should embrace. Yes, there will be more tracking. There will be more upgrades of the stuff ...more
Anders Brabaek
Jul 27, 2016 rated it it was ok

This is not a good book

Kelly introduces the technological forces he believes will shape the future. These are;
AI/artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT, robotics, the scalable cloud, virtual and augmented reality, omnipresent screens, quantified-self technologies, and social media.

Rather than using the headers I have used above, Kelly is taking outset in what impact these technologies will have. For the non-techie, that might provide a look into certain possibilities in the nea
Oleksandr Golovatyi
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Incredibly interesting book about the main directions of development of our civilization:
1) Becoming: Moving from fixed products to always upgrading services and subscriptions
2) Cognifying: Making everything much smarter using cheap powerful AI that we get from the cloud
3) Flowing: Depending on unstoppable streams in real-time for everything
4) Screening: Turning all surfaces into screens
5) Accessing: Shifting society from one where we own assets, to one where instead we will have access to servi
Otis Chandler
Kevin Kelly, who is a Wired co-founder, lays out technological trends that are "inevitable". Like too many nonfiction books, I found a few chapters to be worth reading, and a few not to be. I enjoyed the sections on AI and books. And sometimes just zooming out to get bigger perspective is engaging, which was the case for me in the sections on VR/AR and tracking. Much of the rest of the book seemed geared for people less technically savvy, which was my only complaint as it really drew the book ou ...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

It was a fascinating experience to read Kevin Kelly's The Inevitable right after tackling Nicholas Carr's Utopia is Creepy , an experience that teaches a lot about why so many other tech writers come and go with the same blazingly fast trendiness of teenage pop singers, while Kelly has been around since
Craig Jaquish
Jul 21, 2016 rated it it was ok
I’m growing increasingly skeptical about the utility of William Gibson’s frequently quoted observation (quoted again in The Inevitable itself) that “the future is already here; it’s just not evenly distributed.” Distribution speed is technological too. The “leveling” nature of the very technologies we’re discussing means that it’s increasingly difficult for anyone to gain a better vantage than anyone else. A more apt observation of Gibson’s (made also by other commentators) is that science ficti ...more
Leo Walsh
Jan 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Okay, I've been following Kelly for decades, since the Whole Earth Review and his tenure at Wired. So maybe his optimism has worn thin by now. Or maybe its because I'm older.

But color me skeptical about gee-whiz technology. After seeing some high-profile algorithmic flops -- like the 2008 crash, driven by computer investment portfolio algorithms. Or Facebook showing fake news because people hit "like" a lot, despite knowing that its fake. Or how 'smart' policing using computer algorithms, desig
Stephen Heiner
Oct 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-tech
About halfway through the book I was bored. Not because the issues that Kelly discusses are unimportant to me, but because he delivers it in the one-note cadence implied by his title: The Inevitable. The only true inevitable was that I would finish the book so as to be prepared for the discussion with my fellows at the book club, not because I felt that he had a particularly relevant work, and 300 pages later, I still feel the way I do: Kelly falls far short.

I believe that we as humans are imper
Jul 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mindgasms, innovation

What does the future look like? It looks more amazing than I could have imagined. Kevin Kelly outlines what AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) will look like in the next 30 years. He wrote this book before Pokemon Go came out. I have been obsessed with catching all the Pokemon and evolving the ones I have. Just having played this one AR game, I can see how AR and VR games will take over the world. So fun! Kelly also looked at the impact of VR in the home.

When talking about job
Begüm Saçak
Dec 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is so insightful that I wish this book was compulsory for people pursuing technology & computer science degrees. The book Inevitable is divided into sections and each section is a gerund or force that is shaping us as a result of the technological advances. I want to point out how he is not only talking about technology but also the philosophy behind and how the gradual change is realized through current examples and glimpses of potential future adaptations.

Regarding technology, I rea
Jun 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Audible. I love this book. Whether or not KK's predictions about the future are on point, the content and story telling of this book stretched my mind. I've never read a book by a 'futurist' before so this book was a real treat for me, as it also applies to the work I do as a product manager.

The book left me feeling in awe about what the future holds--it also left me feeling a bit uneasy, as I scrambled to internalize this vision of the future. It even stressed me out a bit, with the notions th
Jul 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing

“We are moving away from the world of fixed nouns and toward a world of fluid verbs.” (p. 11)

“In the intangible digital realm, nothing is static or fixed. Everything is becoming.” (p. 12)

Although parts left me puzzling: what the heck was what I just read all about?, Kevin Kelly’s deeply insightful book, THE INEVITABLE: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future, is a futurist's delight. Kelly offers cogent and reas
Jun 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: technology
39th book for 2016.

Wow. The Silicon Valley tech-heads live in a happy-happy future world; a world where we are all connected, all the time, in vast Hive Mind; where all our most private thoughts are given up to the corporate cloud; where our most basic consumptive desires are anticipated by ubiquitous AIs.

In Kelly's take on things, there is no point questioning the future. No point in dwelling on critical questions of autonomy or ecological stewardship, as our fluid, connected, constantly dist
Kent Winward
Aug 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We are all newbies now. Kelly's approach to technology is an analysis of trends. The greatest benefit of the book is that Kelly's thoughts are a fantastic jumping off point for musing on your own experience with technology. Considering my life span has covered technological advances that are so mind-numbingly rapid, being able to think of them as trends has the added benefit of making me not feel like an overwhelmed, curmudgeonly Luddite. Kelly's section on books was especially thought provoking ...more
May 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
The book is full of examples that are part of our everyday life now. Sure, they have been a surprise at some point in the past but not any more. There's too many ordinary tech examples which bores the reader, especially if you work in tech and familiar with recent developments in technology. The overall idea of the book is interesting but probably could be summarized in one chapter.
Apr 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed Kevin Kelly’s predictions for the future in this book. He has that kind of over-the-top, goofy way to point things out – you can just tell he loves telling how he thinks things will be. I have a nephew that gets that excited talking about drifting, and he comes across about the same as Kelly. The best part of this book is when Kelly decides the way to express his idea of the future is to tell a story. He does this a few times throughout the book (more would have been better), an ...more
Sep 17, 2019 rated it liked it
This book feels dystopian and sometimes fascinating at the same time. Some of the things that Kevin Kelly predicts will definitely come to pass. His knowledge about tech and future trends is well-known. But my concern is getting too much dependent on technology and lack of privacy. If every move we make is tracked and turned into data so our life is nothing but bits to be fed to the technology beast. For a long time, technology was used to make our life easier and what is happening now is just t ...more
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
More of 4,5 stars. The book is a glimpse into a possible future and is written in an interesting style, easy to read and with relevant examples. It opened my eyes to what will happen in the next 50 years or at least the direction we are heading. Some of the points are obvious, but still insightful. I disagree with the conclusion of the author because it is overly optimistic, other, grimmer scenarios are possible for human civilization. But some of the simple ideas used by the author are just ver ...more

Look at all these tabs! I had to revisit them all before being able to write a sensible review. There is just so much good stuff that got absorbed by my brain while reading The Inevitable, I had to digest and compartmentalize.

First of all, I do have to say that Kevin Kelley focuses largely on the positive aspects of every technological advancement, and he addresses that concern very late in the book. I think stating his position earlier would have been helpful to the reader. Otherwise, if you
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved it. This is one of the best books I've read about technology and it's future.
Michael Payne
Jun 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Out of our Minds! Most fascinating, disturbing, and awe-inspiring of the Inevitable forces Kevin Kelly highlights is the rapid rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR). Our future will part from all past as it will no longer be crafted only with our own hands, tools, and the machines that we once “controlled” with explicit instruction sets. Increasingly the machines are “teaching” themselves from vast data collection creating self-learning intelligences. We already use this ...more
André Spiegel
Jun 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Automation is not a race against the machine, but with it. You can no longer choose to update your software, or choose not to, since software has become like an organism that is in constant flux. And the internet with its billions of minds connected to it is a kind of super-organism in a dream-like state.

Those were some of the strongest, most brilliant ideas I found in the book. And among the weakest: When Kelly sketches the unfolding of a typical day in the future, driving past buildings which
Robert Miller
Aug 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A major theme of this book is that we can't stop the future: The author says, “We can't stop artificial intelligence (AI) and robots from improving, creating new businesses, and taking our current jobs.” For the most part, the author projects his vision of what the new gadgets will be and how everyone will be dependent upon them in most aspects of their lives. Our lives are changing and shifting from centralized to decentralized services and control because the internet permits massive collabora ...more
Lucas Carlson
Jun 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The most important book of 2016

Culturally we used to be much more excited about the future. We watched the Jetsons and Back to the Future with giddy anticipation. But somewhere along the way, we started getting scared. The predominant emotion towards the long term future now is fear. Dystopia. How bad things will get. There are very few thinkers giving us a more realistic and balanced glance into the future. This book does just that. Without the lingering taste of fear and dystopia. And without
Shivon Zilis
Jun 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Don't be fooled by the ominous title -- this is a delightfully thoughtful and optimistic take on where technology will take us. A brilliant deconstruction of the subtle but ubiquitous forces all around us.
Nov 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
Book was interesting but could have been a lot more succinct. This was a buddy read with BP and it was a bad sign that we barely spent any time discussing it.

I fully recognize the irony of reading this book in a print format which meant I had to type up the notes below!

How we will change how we relate to the internet:
"The web will more and more resemble a presence that you relate to rather than a place -- the famous cyberspace of the 1980s -- that you journey to. It will be a low-level constant
Jenna Moquin
Jul 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Overall, I enjoyed reading Kevin Kelly's vision of our future. And he's right about many things, including driverless cars replacing truck drivers, and artificial intelligence. That's definitely inevitable, though it chills me when I think of something the late Stephen Hawking said, that AI will be the last thing man invents...and it's ironic that he's praising the very things that may just be our downfall. Technology got Trump elected.

In the chapter "Flowing," he states "soon you'll be able to
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Very hard for me to understand the hype around this mediocre book.
A few good insights, sure. Some useful food for thought, I concede. The question about future trends is a fundamental one to talk about. But the book is mediocre in the way it has been threaded together and researched. There is virtually little background to make the case for why these trends should continue onto the future, what is the hard evidence (or at least convincing evidence) for why these trends and not other should show
Jim Angstadt
Jun 28, 2016 rated it liked it
The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future
Kevin Kelly

The author has been keeping track of technology developments for decades, and helping us understand just what changes are going on around us. In this book, he distills those changes into 12 forces that he thinks will change our world and us. He might be right. Most of his forecasts are reasonable projections of current trends. His ideas are thought provoking and worthy of attention; we can help shape t
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Kevin Kelly is Senior Maverick at Wired magazine. He co-founded Wired in 1993, and served as its Executive Editor from its inception until 1999. He is also editor and publisher of the Cool Tools website, which gets half a million unique visitors per month. From 1984-1990 Kelly was publisher and editor of the Whole Earth Review, a journal of unorthodox technical news. He co-founded the ongoing Hack ...more

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15 likes · 2 comments
“Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.” Indeed,” 9 likes
“This is not a race against the machines. If we race against them, we lose. This is a race with the machines. You’ll be paid in the future based on how well you work with robots. Ninety percent of your coworkers will be unseen machines.” 8 likes
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