Kevin Kelly knows the future. In his role as an author and futurist, not to mention co-founder and Senior Maverick of WIRED, Kelly has become an expert on the years to come. His latest book, the New York Times bestseller “The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future” (Viking, 2016), guides the reader through the future of tech, work, and life. He addresses one of those forces, artificial intelligence (AI), in an interview with the “Several People Are Typing” blog, and reassures us that humanity will never make itself completely obsolete.
Kelly speaks frankly about the fact that people fear being replaced: “Nobody has had any trouble making that step to, I’m not relevant, I’m not needed.” But he also highlights the fact that while robots and AI may be able to do things like provide quick answers, humans are the only ones who can ask the right questions. His vision of the future is one in which humans continue to direct machines, as we always have.
He also thinks the era of constant upgrades is here to stay. If the pace of software only accelerates, we may all become “forever newbies,” periodically re-learning the tools to do our jobs. As Kelly says, “This entails constant learning and relearning and unlearning. That skill will become pretty central to anybody, whatever kind of job or work or play that they’re doing… You are going to be confronted with new things that you have to either decide it’s not for you or become familiar with it and make it integral to what you do. Then, be ready to leave it behind when the next thing comes.” Perhaps mandatory Windows and iOS upgrades have really been doing us a favor, preparing us for rest of the 21st century.