Book Review – The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly


In life, nothing can be said to be certain except death, taxes, and technological progress.

Kevin Kelly via his journey from the Whole Earth Review to Wired Magazine, and his book What Technology Wants is a leading thinker in the march of technological progress and it’s impact on our lives.

For todays business managers, thinkers, and innovators, The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces that will Shape Our Future is a useful framework to use to guide your product development thinking.

The 12 Forces are trends and summarised as:

  • Becoming – We will be in a constant state of change, of learning, of renewing, and of adapting. Will move from owning to subscribing. Perpetual newbies.
  • Cognifying – Artificial intelligence will be everywhere and in everything and will change how things work, and how we work with things.
  • Flowing Flow of information, newly digitalised products, we will be able to dip in at anytime to access services from the data flow. The liquidity of products and services rendering them practically free.
  • Screening – Have you read The Circle?, the main character ended up with 9 screens on her desk, and at least two she wore on her body. We will negotiate our world via screens. On our person, our devices, and on our objects. Anything with a surface will have a screen.
  • Accessing – Anything will be available without owning it. Think music & Spotify, iTunes Radio, Kindle Prime, we no longer own what we wish to consume, we create our own use cases. Why own a car if a driverless one turns up whenever you want it?
  • Sharing – Everything is shared for others to use and adapt. Collaboration on a mass scale.
  • Filtering – We will need to create and curate personalisation filters for negotiating our universe to funnel in the data we want and need.
  • Remixing – We can rap with products the way DJs rap with music, unbundling and rebuilding, it will create new uses, and new products.
  • Interacting – Machine learning, virtual reality, and augmented reality. Total immersion in technology, we will be able to see anything, and our objects will see us and respond.
  • Tracking – We will be tracked everywhere, and will track everything, and it will be accepted and constant. The data will become additional senses to inform our decisions.
  • Questioning – A new communication requirement will be formed from the deluge of new questions arising out of the trends above.
  • Beginning – A new system, a new economy, connecting humans and machines.

Yes, advertising will see you and change to serve up content based on what you are looking to purchase, the data generated from your tracking. And yes, robots will take your job, but create the opportunity to work in one that doesn’t exist today, creating work for the robots to do . This is an entirely positive thing according to Kelly, he paints an exciting and inspiring picture. Inspiring in the opportunities it presents to innovators, inventors, and decision makers.

It is a well written manifesto on change, that reminds me of the ancient Chinese proverb: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

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