Kevin Kelly, The Inevitable

Technologist Kevin Kelly is in a unique position to map trends in the digital age, having been a first mover in the internet over 30 years ago as well as co-founding Wired. His credentials and experience are impeccable. Kelly’s argument? That certain developments are inevitable, though particular developments are not predictable. For example, while Facebook itself could not have been predicted, several technologies have converged to make it, or something like it, inevitable. We can upload photographs from anywhere, hyperlink text, and access all this from a small device. KK’s main message: Whether you like it or not was never the point. The only question is how do we keep up – as an individual, as a society – with the breathtaking speed of technology?

What this book attempts, however, can best be summarized in the introduction and a sample chapter. The book takes several of these trends, for example “sharing” and “tracking”, then illustrates them in chapters speckled with numerous examples of how this is already happening. Did you know, for instance, that your car has been collecting data on every curve and brake you make since 2006? He is careful to point out that each of these processes overlap and are “trajectories”, not final destinations. Due to this, the book becomes somewhat repetitive in making its point anew with examples from AR/VR, artificial intelligence, and the like.

Read this book if you want to get a feel for the amazing diversity of innovation that the future will bring; less so if you are looking for a critical analysis of how these trends impact society. It is not that KK ignores these points, but his main interest lies in outlining the question “what does technology want”.