Sunday May 28, 2017

How to prepare for the inevitable

An artistic rendering of a robotic arm using a calculator.

An artistic rendering of a robotic arm using a calculator. (Pixabay)

Listen 14:13

This story first aired in May 2016.

The only thing that is constant is change, goes the cliché. But Wired magazine founder and big thinker Kevin Kelly says that there are already technological trends in motion that will make certain changes not probable, but inevitable.

That's the theme of his latest book, The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 technological forces that will shape our future

Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly, author of "The Inevitable" and Senior Maverick at Wired Magazine. (Wikipedia/Creative Commons)

What kind of changes do you think we'll see in the next 30 years? Do you imagine living in a world full of technological wonders that would be completely impossible today?

Kevin, still "senior maverick" at Wired, thinks we should embrace those emerging shifts that will shape our future. The book is an optimistic -- but not starry-eyed -- roadmap of that future. Kevin believes that not only do we need to understand these deep trends -- we need to embrace them.

Kevin notes we have difficulty perceiving the change that is happening all around us, using the analogy of a frog slowly boiling in a saucepan. 

"Technology succeeds by becoming invisible," he says.

Indeed, that pace is happening so fast that we are continual "newbies" because we're perpetually overwhelmed by the constant change. 

Learning is going to have to become a constant practice, Kevin says, as the pace of technological change increases.

"A great company is going to have to become a great teaching company," he says.

Things that were once fixed and finished -- like a book -- have become flows or streams, he points out, citing everything from video to music to Facebook and Twitter. "We have to assemble the truths ourselves... nothing is fixed. This is a world that is much more uncertain."

"There will be a huge impact on our cultural identity."

We at Spark also asked several of our recent guests to guess what they think will be technology-related inevitabilities in the future. Here is what they said: