cover image The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future

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

Kevin Kelly. Viking, $28 (318p) ISBN 978-0-525-42808-4

Kelly (What Technology Wants), a cofounder and former editor of Wired magazine, reflects on the revolutionary digital and technological changes currently underway and seeks to define 12 of the forces driving these changes. He writes that these forces are active trends that make certain outcomes inevitable: "There is a bias in the nature of technology that tilts it in certain directions and not others." Throughout the book, Kelly catalogs the many new developments of the last couple decades, from the Internet itself to the explosion of cloud computing and digital services such as Facebook and Uber. Each chapter addresses one of the 12 forces and ends with a vision of what our daily lives might look like if the given trend persists 30 years from now; for example, he predicts the personalization of nearly everything%E2%80%94including healthcare and advertisements%E2%80%94based on comprehensively collected, maintained, and shared data profiles. These imaginative speculations reflect an optimistic and arguably idealistic view, and the book as a whole exudes faith in the power of technology to better the world. Kelly notes that bad actors are just as inevitable as the technological changes themselves, but he chooses to elide discussions of the specific downsides that likely will accompany the changes he describes. Kelly's stated goal is "to uncover the roots of digital change so that we can embrace them." The book effectively identifies these roots, but in omitting critical discussion of them, it leaves the reader inadequately equipped to thoughtfully embrace or engage with them. (June)