The Inevitable: book review

September 22, 2016 Focus area: Continuous Innovation

The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 technological forces that will shape our future, by Kevin Kelly.

The Inevitable describes ongoing technological trends that will inevitably continue to influence our lives. In the introduction of the book, the author states that “…the strong tides that shaped digital technologies for the past 30 years will continue to expand and harden in the next 30 years.” That is the argument on which the 12 chapters of the book build.


Every chapter title in this book is a verb in the present participle form, such as becoming, sharing, interacting, accessing, and filtering. These verbs represent twelve technological forces. The last chapter is about the final force: beginning. The author analyzes the trajectories of the trends of today within these forces, to present a marvelous view on our future.

The book discusses a very wide array of technological developments. The internet itself, virtual reality, e-money, robotics, gamifying, artificial intelligence, crowd sourcing, product as a service, and internet of things are just a few of the topics that are covered comprehensively.

As a reader I found myself questioning several of the predictions made. In Kelly’s mind, nothing stands in the way of technology to fully prosper in the next 30 years. There are almost no negative effects, and no borders or limitations. This over-optimistic approach makes me wonder if idealism and realism are not mixing up too much. However, most of the author’s views on the future are convincing and seem inevitable. For example, the predictions about artificial intelligence being able to accomplish human tasks in the near future, or predictions about the 100% tracking of our lives by ourselves or others, make sense and are accurate.

The Inevitable is a must-read if you are interested in technological developments, and particularly if you want to know how the world around us will change because of them. Kelly chooses his arguments carefully and he provides the reader with his sometimes stunning vision. However, Kelly overdoes it occasionally, resulting in unrealistic predictions. If you refuse to see the bigger picture the author tries to outline with his examples, or if you lack imagination, you would better leave this book on the shelf.

The enthusiasm of Kevin Kelly jumps off the page from start to finish. His positive attitude towards the future, and the unlimited possibilities he delineates, are inspiring. The Inevitable describes a future full of opportunities. It provides a positive view on a society in which technology is prospering, and it makes the reader want to skip the next 25 years to step into an exciting new world.