a16z Podcast

a16z Podcast: Not If, But How — When Technology is Inevitable

Kevin Kelly, Chris Dixon, Kyle Russell, and Sonal Chokshi

Posted June 7, 2016

Technology has always been a force in how we live, work, and play; only now it’s accelerating and compounding in unexpected ways. But just because we don’t know exactly what form that tech will take (sharing homes on Airbnb or cars with Lyft and Uber for example) doesn’t mean that the larger force at play (e.g., sharing) didn’t have a certain predictability to it. It was almost an inherent — and inevitable — outcome of the very nature of the internet itself. And there are at least 12 such inevitable technological forces, shares author Kevin Kelly in his new book Inevitable.  

As we now move from an “internet of information” to an “internet of experiences” — with virtual and augmented reality, AI-as-a-service, and more — we need to accept the inevitable. Instead of fighting tech outcomes (things like tracking for example), we need to expect it, accept it, plan for it, and civilize it. It’s not just about policy and laws, though (which should follow tech use); it’s about new business opportunities (imagine if the music industry had bypassed its DRM phase!), cultural change, and new opportunities for humanity, too.

Especially as the future of work changes. But productivity — and even some forms of creativity — is for the robots, argues Kelly in this episode of the a16z Podcast (where he is joined by a16z’s Chris Dixon, Kyle Russell, and Sonal Chokshi). The irony is that while technology is inevitable, we humans are best suited for what is uncertain, inefficient, and full of failure. Machines may answer, but we will ask the questions. It’s not just what we want, but what technology needs.