The Inevitable | Kevin Kelly

Summary of: The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future
By: Kevin Kelly


In the book ‘The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future,’ Kevin Kelly invites readers to envision a protopia, a world that continually improves, thanks to technological progress. This world thrives on the relentless advancement of technology, challenging us to adopt the mindset of permanent ‘newbies’ and adapt to the constantly evolving technological landscape. The book delves into the roles of artificial intelligence, cognification of objects, filtering, flowing and sharing of goods, remixing content, virtual reality, screening, tracking, and questioning in shaping our future, as we continue navigating the seemingly unending flow of innovation.

Living in Protopia

The future lies in a world of protopia, where everything keeps getting better through innovation and progress. This means that technology will always be in a state of becoming and nothing is ever fixed or finalized. Each innovation has the potential to trigger another innovation, making the process unpredictable and non-linear. The best we can do is identify generalized trends, as technology never stops improving. This also means that we will always be “newbies” in the ever-evolving technological world, constantly upgrading our devices to adapt to the changing landscape. The decreasing longevity of technology also means that we won’t get to spend enough time to truly master it.

The Future of AI

The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming the world we know. AI is reshaping and enhancing several sectors, including medicine. However, contrary to popular beliefs, AI will not replace human intelligence but rather complement it by handling tasks that computers can perform better. The future will see humans engaging in activities that are uniquely human, such as caring for others and intuitive thinking. One of the ways AI will shape our future is by filtering through the vast expanse of online content, which has been expanding at an exponential rate. With the rise of AI, the world is bound to change, and we must evaluate how we can work together with this technology to produce the best outcomes.

The Future of Commerce in the Digital Age

In today’s world, goods are no longer defined by material possessions. The advent of the internet has transformed commerce, as intangible goods become more prevalent. Online streaming services like Spotify and Netflix provide a variety of real-time content streams that can be shared or copied by users. This sharing economy allows anyone with internet access to become a producer by connecting with others to exchange resources or collaborate on projects. With 15 billion devices already connected through the internet, the future holds endless possibilities for commerce. The rise of machine intelligence and the merging of human minds with technology will produce a “super intelligence”, marking the beginning of a new era.

The Future of Access

In the past, physical possession was essential to conduct commercial transactions. Today, access-based businesses are gaining ground, where physical possession is less important than offering services. These businesses require less capital outlay for maintenance and can offer better service as they operate in real-time. Peer-to-peer taxi service Uber, for example, can offer a ride to a customer faster than a centralized taxi service due to its decentralized workforce. Remixing, or rearranging content, is the driving force of growth today. As passive consumers transform into active content producers, property rights will need to adapt to this digitized world.

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