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

Posted by Kristin Arnold on August 27, 2019

I was recently chatting with Adrian Segar, author of Conferences That Work, about the latest business book he was reading (I always want to know!).  He mentioned the book, The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly.  So I immediately went down to the local bookstore so I could read it on my interminable flight from Phoenix to Prince Edward Island (It takes ALL DAY!).

Needless to say, I inhaled this book, thinking, “Oh, that was interesting….I need to ponder that…later,”  while making notes on the side.

The premise is this: there are twelve fundamental roots of digital change that he has observed over the past 30 years (much of it in the front row seat as the founder and executive director of Wired Magazine) and suggests that they are “inevitable” paths going forward.  The path is outlined; the specifics are not.  For example, “telephony – long-distance electrically transmitted voice messages – was inevitable, but the iPhone was not.”

These twelve paths – becoming, cognifying, flowing, screening, accessing, sharing, filtering, remixing, interacting, tracking, questioning, and beginning are starting points for innovative thinking.  For each of these paths, Kelly shares a rather optimistic presentation of the “motion,” why it is inevitable (the history) and then some motivation for future possibilities.

His discourse is a bit polyanna-ish, but Kelly does admit “there will be heartbreak, conflict and confusion, in addition to incredible benefits.”  Oh yes indeed!  He continues, “First, we see push back.  Key stakeholders want to stop it, prohibit it, deny it, or at least make it hard to use….Banning the inevitable usually backfires….We need to manage these emerging inventions to prevent actual (vs. hypothetical) harms, both by legal and technological means. We need to civilize and tame new inventions in particulars.  But we can only do that with deep engagement, firsthand experience, and a vigilant acceptance….Once seen, we can work with their nature, rather than struggle against it.”  And knowing WHERE we are in that change cycle is also important.

Perfect to jump start your strategic planning, innovative thinking, or future forward thinking.

KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF, CSP is a high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator.  She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 20 years.  She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action.

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