Embrace your robot for a better future | KALW

Embrace your robot for a better future

Jun 10, 2016

Kevin Kelly has seen the future, and it’s full of numbers. Want an example?

“Every 12 months we produce eight million new songs, two million new books, 16,000 new films, 30 billion blog posts, 182 billion tweets, 400,000 new products,” writes Kelly.


Kelly, co-founder of Wired magazine, says in his book The Inevitable, that the title refers to the fact that, “Much of what will happen in the next 30 years is inevitable, driven by technological trends that are already in motion.”

Try to stop it if you like, but that’s a fool’s game. The music industry tried that, and we know what happened to them. Free (or nearly free) music is now the norm; it was inevitable. As Bay Area thinker Stewart Brand said a generation ago, “Information wants to be free.”

Embrace the change, Kelly advises. That always works better.

Take that mass of numbers above. The only way to avoid drowning in this “glorious plenitude,” he says, is by employing serious filtering mechanisms.

 Filtering is one of the trends he sees as shaping our lives over the next generation — the rest are: becoming, cognifying, flowing, screening, accessing, sharing, interacting, tracking, questioning, remixing and beginning. And they apply to every segment of our lives, wherever on earth we live.

Automation and technology have been devouring tasks and disrupting industries for decades, a trend that will continue. Not to worry, says Kelly, because as mundane or intricate tasks are taken over – try making a computer chip faster and better than a machine – new jobs are created, along with ways of thinking.


A century ago, “not a single citizen of China would have told you that they would rather buy a tiny glass slab that allowed them to talk to faraway friends before they would buy indoor plumbing,” Kelly observes. Yet this happens daily. Kelly confidently predicts that “the highest-earning professions in the year 2050 will depend on automations and machines that have not been invented yet [as] … robots create jobs that we did not even know we wanted done.”


Since this trend is unstoppable, Kelly advises that it’s best to understand it, and grow along with it.



Kevin Kelly, who lives in Pacifica, will be at Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park on June 13 at 7:30pm. It’s a free event, but please respond on the store website so they can make proper plans.

He also addresses the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on July 18, starting at 6:30pm.