A few weeks ago, I went to visit a good friend of mine at his house. I haven’t seen my buddy in awhile so I was excited to see him.
We greet each other and give each other a big hug. As I get settled in, we sit down in the living room and start to catch up, joke, and laugh about life.
My friend’s daughter who is maybe 2 years old stumbles in the room mumbling a bunch of baby words demanding attention.
On the coffee table there was a picture frame of a cool action shot her Dad was in. She looks at it and picks it up trying to un-pinch it a few times (like an iPad) to make it larger, with no success, and looked at him, confused. “Daddy, broken.”
It was like if the picture wasn’t interacting with her, it was broken. This two year old gets around easily on the iPad, iPhone, no problem, and can’t live with out it.
It even turns out this generation has a name now. They’re called the iPad Generation.
This experience blew my mind. Even being a millennial myself, I was in shock. It shook me up and reminded me to get ahead of the game and to prepare myself for a much different future.
This article is a summary of a great book I recently read – “The Inevitable: Understanding The 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future” by Kevin Kelly.
I was so mind blown about what I was learning that I had to summarize it and share it with the world.
About the author:
Kevin Kelly was the co-founding executive editor of Wired Magazine.
WIRED Magazine is a monthly magazine that reports on how emerging technologies affect culture, the economy, and politics.
Kelly has been a writer, photographer, conservationist, and student of digital culture for 30+ years.
In his book, Kevin outlines twelve (12) technologies that will exponentially shape the future over the next 30 years.
Everyone alive right now is well aware of how different the world is right now in 2016. The thing I don’t think many people are aware of is how it’s going to keep changing, at an exponential rate.
In·ev·i·ta·ble: certain to happen; unavoidable.
I’m going to summarize the key points to be aware of in each of the 12 technologic forces that Kevin identifies in his book. I believe we should acknowledge this info as we go into business and craft our own future.
The Inevitable is driven by the idea that the technological trends of the next 30 years can be predicted. The names themselves don’t really tell you much about these trends, so I’ll break it down.
The internet has gave birth to a new “becoming.” The web has been around for almost 30 years now and we totally failed to imagine what it would become back when it started. The crazy part is we still don’t see it today. We are blind to the miracle it has blossomed into.
But here’s the thing. In terms of the internet, nothing has happened yet! The internet is still at the beginning of its beginning. It is only becoming.
Kelly says that our impulse is to imagine the web three decades from now as a Web 2.0 – a better web. But the web in 2050 won’t be a better web. It will become something completely new.
“In a strict technical sense, the web today can be defined as the sum of all the things that you can google – that is, all files reachable with a hyperlink. Presently major portions of the digital world can’t be googled. A lot of what happens on Facebook, or on a phone app, or even inside a video can’t be searched right now. In 30 years it will be.”
Say you wanted to find the exact moment on your phone when your brother scored the gaming winning goal in the championship game or when your son accepted his college diploma. The web will be able to reach this, instantly.
Kevin predicts that tiny chips will be embedded into products connecting them to the web. Most objects in your home will be connected to the web, enabling you to google your home.
By 2050, we’ll come to think of the web as an ever-present type of conversation.
In this chapter, Kelly goes into the rise of A.I. – Artificial Intelligence.
For those that don’t know, artificial intelligence is pretty much adding intelligence to products or processes.
So let’s clear things up, AI is not a robot. A robot is a container for AI, sometimes mimicking the human form, sometimes not—but the AI itself is the computer inside the robot.
We can say with certainty that cognification is inevitable, because it is already here.
This chapter really made me think about my own life. Working in the construction industry myself, I can already see SO much room for innovation and growth using AI. I can tell you about half of what I do (and you) right now will be replaced by artificial intelligence (computers) in the near future.
Kelly uses many examples here but one that related to me was the idea of “Cognified Construction.” Imagine project management software that is smart enough to take into account weather forecasts, port traffic delays, currency exchange rates, accidents, estimating, in addition to design changes.
Combine that with the rise of 3D printing, the game is going to change completely. The question is are you ready?
I invite you to start thinking about how AI could impact the industry you currently work in.
The disruption AI will cause will touch our core. Kelly asks us to imagine that seven out of ten working Americans got fired tomorrow. What would they all do?
“But in slow motion, it doesn’t look this way. This has already happened before. Two hundred years ago, 70% of Americans workers lived on the farm. Today automation has eliminated all but 1% of their jobs, replacing them with machines. But the displaced workers did not sit idle. Instead, automation created hundreds of millions of jobs in entirely new fields. Today, the vast majority of us are doing jobs that no farmer from the 1800s could have imagined.”
Kelly predicts that by the end of the century, 70% of today’s occupations will be replaced by automation, including the job you have right now.
So when robots and automation do our most basic work, “What are humans for?”
We’ll then be empowered to dream up more answers to the question “What should we do?” It will be a long time before a robot can answer that question.
It is inevitable. Let the robots take our jobs, and let them help us dream up new work that matters.
We’re making a new transition here, pages and browsers are less important. Today the prime units are flows and streams. We constantly monitor Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SnapChat.
We stream photos, music, video. We subscribe to YouTube channels, blogs, and are hit with updates. We tag, like, and favorite moments we like in the stream.
The future will continue to create streams that will become more powerful, more accessible, and more valuable to everyday life and business.
Today more than 5 billion digital screens illuminate our lives. The world has gone to computers, phones, laptops, and tablets. This has set up the culture clash between People of the Book and People of the Screen.
People of the Book are old school good hardworking people. Living by the book, by the authority, and the rules of finance.
People of the Screen are tend to ignore the classic logic. People of the Screen make their own content and construct their own truth. Screen culture is fast and flowing.
Books will be the first of many media that screening will transform. First screening will change books, then libraries, then movies & video, then games, then education, and then everything else.
Let’s use Wikipedia as an example. Wikipedia is one very large book – a single encyclopedia – which it is. Wikipedia currently has roughly 34 million pages.
Eventually, books are going to jump out their bindings and weave themselves together into one huge book – “The Universal Library.”
Imagine a world where everyone in the world has instant access to the Universal Library. WHAT!?
The Universal Library: All books, all documents, all conceptual works, in all languages – all connected.
We will be able to provide all the works of mankind to all the people in the world. The greatest achievement of all time. All paintings, photographs, film, piece of music by all artists, present and past.
“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. AirBnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real-estate. Something interesting is happening.”
Possession is not as important as it once was. Accessing is more important than ever.
Dematerialization: To make better stuff using fewer materials.
I’m sure you have noticed our smart phones have gotten thinner, lighter, faster, and smarter. This has and will continue to happen to everything else. That is dematerialization.
An automobile today is really a computer on wheels. As cars become more digital, they will tend to be swapped and shared and used in the same social way we swap digital media.
Products encourage ownership, but services discourage ownership.
Accessing rather than owning keeps us agile and fresh, ready for whatever is next.
We’ve already begun to see the force of sharing become part of our economy. Some futurists are saying the primary currency in the new world is “sharing.”
The number of personal photos posted on Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, and other sites is a astronomical 1.8 billion per day. Add this to the billions of videos shared on YouTube.
The habit of sharing what you’re thinking (Twitter), what you’re reading (StumbleUpon), your everything (Facebook) is becoming apart of our culture.
Sidenote: Go “Like” my Facebook page so I can continue to share content and you can be notified.
We live in a golden age now. The volume of creative work in the next decade will crush the volume of the last 50 years.
“In the next three decades the greatest wealth – and most interesting cultural innovations – lie in the direction of sharing. The largest, fastest growing, most profitable companies in 2050 will be companies that will figured out how to harness aspects of sharing that are invisible and unappreciated today. Anything that can be shared – thoughts, emotions, money, health, time – will be shared in the right conditions, with the right benefits. At this point in our history, sharing something that has not been shared before, or in a new way, is the surest way to increase its value.”
There is no turning the sharing off for long. Even the silence will be shared.
In every dimension, media today is at an all-time high.
It is 10 times easier today to make a simple video than 10 years ago. It is 100 times easier to create a small mechanical part and make it real than a 100 ago. It is 1000 times easier today to write and publish a book than a 1000 years ago. I’ve even published 2 eBooks myself, that’s how easy it is.
Kelly’s point here is that with the vast amount of information and content available now and even more so in the future, filtering is going to be a huge technology to come.
What if we lived in world where every great movie, video, book, article, and song ever produced was at your fingertips for free and your filter system weeded out the crap, the trash, and what would bore you?
Your only choices would be the absolute cream of the cream. You would only encounter the things that perfectly matched to you at that moment.
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are already starting to do this with their news feeds.
Filtering is going to expand to other systems beyond media, like AirBnb and Uber. Your preferences in hotel style, status, and service can easily be matched to target exactly what you want. Anywhere we want personalization, filtering will follow.
“You will have a “Universal You.” You will be able to track your shopping, eating out, club attendance, movie streaming, news screening, exercise routines, and weekend excursions, it can make very detailed recommendations for me – with minimal effort on their part.”
More filtering is inevitable because we can’t stop making new things. While we continue to make new things we will make new ways to filter and personalize them, to make us more like ourselves.
Virtual reality (VR) is a fake world that feels absolutely authentic.
In the future we will be equipping our devices with senses – eyes, ears, motion – so that we can interact with them. They will not only know we are there, they will know who is there and whether that person is in a good mood.
The first technological platform to disrupt a society within the lifespan of a human was personal computers. Mobile phones were the second platform, and they revolutionized everything in only a few decades. The next disrupting platform – now arriving – is VR.
Along with virtual realities, there are also augmented realities (AR). We’ve already seen the explosion of AR with the latest craze of “Pokemon Go.”
An Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.
Do you know what this really means?
Literally, as I’m writing this every single person in Silicon Valley right now is sitting in a board room next to a whiteboard 24 hours a day dreaming up of ways they can implement AR into their apps.
So if you don’t care about Pokemon Go right now, it doesn’t matter because you WILL be using AR in the very near future for all kinds of other things that you do like.
I already mentioned the example of the little girl and the iPad above. In the coming 30 years, anything that is not intensely interactive will be considered broken.
In this section of the book, Kelly introduces the future concept of life logging.
A life log is a time-ordered stream of documents that functions as a diary of your electronic life; every document other people send you is stored in your lifestream.
“You will be able to sit back and watch new documents arrive: they’re placed down at the head of the stream. You browse the stream by running your cursor down it – touch a document in the display and a page pops out far enough for you to glance at its contents.”
An expanded version of life logging would offer these four categories of benefits:
- A constant 24/7/365 monitoring of vital body measurements. Imagine how public health would change.
- An interactive, extended memory of people you met, conversations you had, places you visited, and events you participated in.
- A complete passive archive of everything that you have ever produced, wrote, or said.
- A way of organizing, shaping, and “reading” your own life.
We will be shocked at what is possible by a new level of tracking ourselves.
Nowadays when we have questions, we search for answers immediately. We don’t want to wait and we don’t have to.
Very soon now we’ll live in a world where we can ask the cloud, in conversational tones, any question at all. And if that questions has a known answer, the machine will explain it to us. Who won rookie of the year in 2004? Who is the tallest man in the world? Will the universe keep expanding forever?
Over time the cloud, the machine, or AI, will learn to pump out what is known and not known. This leads us down a VERY interesting path as a society.
“The technologies of generating answers will continue to be essential, so much that answers will become omnipresent, instant, reliable, and just about free. But the technologies that help generate questions will be valued more. Question makers will be seen as the engines that generate new fields, new industries, new brands, and new possibilities. Questioning is simply more powerful than answering.”
Thousands of years from now, when historians review the past, this time will be seen as an amazing moment.
This is the time when it all started. Future people will envy us and probably wish they had witnessed the birth of this new world. This is exactly why I encourage a lot of people to start taking themselves and their work online. I’ve heard many of the most successful entrepreneurs and leaders say “If your work isn’t online, then it doesn’t exist.” I believe this to be true.
Right now there are two lives you need to manage, your physical life and your online life. It won’t be long before they’re the same.
“At current rates of technological adoption I estimate that by the year 2025 every person alive – that is 100 percent of the planet’s inhabitants – will have access to this future platform via some almost-free device. Everyone will be on it. Or in it. Or, simply everyone will BE it.”
This is the beginning of your education on the new world. I hope you took something away from this and I hope to hear about it in the comments.
Even after reading this summary of the books key highlights, I still recommend picking it up and reading it for yourself. There is so much more valuable information that I could not include in this article. So pick up your copy today here: The Inevitable: Understanding The 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future.
I’m super curious, what are your thoughts on the inevitable future? I’m especially interested in hearing some of your thoughts and ideas on where you think business is going. Where do you think the health & fitness is going? Where do you think your industry is heading?
What opportunities do you see in the next 30 years?
Hit me up.