Inevitable

What we REALLY believe as inevitable in this digitally-charged age is something we hope to bring to light at this year’s ‘World of Work: 2030’ conference hosted by Henley Business School.

 

Who would have predicted that 10 years hence, we would have a device in our pocket or bag so critical to our lives that there are now psychological conditions, detox routines and lifestyles built around a metal, glass and chip-based piece of equipment?

 

Well, Kevin Kelly knows a thing or two about technology.  Editor of Wired magazine, he’s been at the forefront of digital trends for decades.

 

His book from last year is called The Inevitable: understanding the 12 technological forces that will shape our future.  With a title like that I was drawn in and with a holiday in Sardinia, it was a Kindle-tastic way to celebrate some down time.

 

So what did he say? Not quite what you’d expect from a technologist: no data analytics ninja; design maven or similar. I wouldn’t want to spoil (or breach copyright on) the book so I’ll give you a tease of a few that stood out for me and the professional field I work in / mission I have in life.

 

Becoming.

What Kelly is talking about here is a state he calls protopia, a term to describe a futuristic society that improves itself through slow but continuous progress.

 

Everything we have – from paper, copper pipes to devices – requires our attention and fixing.  He’s noticed that even digital entities (code; apps; and yes, hardware) will weaken, corrode and ossify.  He calls it the result of an upgrade arms race.

 

He has a point.  We have all (probably) put off upgrading (it works still, why do it?) and even lost data due to upgrades.  Yet now it’s a form of hygiene.  Delaying an upgrade can cause negative disruption.  He calls it becoming because, in the background sometimes, often even, our machines are becoming renewed.  We then, become newbies to the new User Interface (UI) or experience (UX) and we have to become adept at it all again.  Skype, most recently, being a big change.  LinkedIn desktop in January this year.   Twitter’s app last month.  Kelly says that we will ALWAYS be newbies and becoming is a state we have to get used to.  An inevitable.  It would drive trainers and experts mad – because their expertise is lost in one upgrade.  Not totally but they have to become good at using it again.

 

So becoming is an inevitable.  We’d better get used to being consciously incompetent by our constant state of being upgraded.  For HR this means we’re never going to get the training right, by the time we master it, it’s upgraded.  So we have to become with our learners and swarm around utilisation, learning together and deploying collectively.

 

Accessing.

Kelly asserts that possession is now not as important as accessing things. Think cloud storage, Uber and Lyft rides, watching streamed box sets and movies on Netflix and music via Spotify. It seems every year we own LESS of what we use.  Kelly calls this dematerialisation.  Some of this is in the development of better hardware like our smartphones and monitors that can now be rolled up and stored in our bag. In Silicon Valley they say ‘software eats everything’.

 

It’s on-demand; it’s decentralised, it’s platforms and it’s clouds.  We’re seeing it now and we’re likely to see more of it as an inevitable in the near future.  Even our money and trusted transactions could go this way with the advent of more widespread use of the blockchain with bitcoins and ethereum.

 

Interacting.

We’re already taking our first tentative steps into interactive virtual reality worlds and 3-D IMAX experiences of immersive viewing. VR is not a new technology but it is getting better and better and with Gear VR, Hololens, Magic Leap, Oculus and more, we’re seeing how processors are power us into ever more realistic simulations.

 

We’re also now seeing whole body (a la Minority Report’s UI) and particularly voice becoming a major interface over keyboards and a trackpad.  As we become more Google Home, Alexa, Siri friendly, the devices are fighting back somewhat; elegant to touch and hold, devices won’t be in rush to be passive boxes we wave at and talk to.  Touch is still a human sensation that we cherish and enjoy.

 

As more becomes “smart” and connected, so our sense of interaction comes with it.  Smart clothing we can swipe; embedded microphones allow us to talk into our buttons; and then neural links.

 

In the inevitable future according to Kevin Kelly. Your body and its uniqueness will be your password, your digital identity and your presence in the virtual world, is you and If anything isn’t intensely interactive in some way, we’ll just assume it’s broken.

 

We’ll be discussing these inevitable and more at Henley Business School Careers’ special event – World Of Work 2030.  A fine ensemble of practitioners, academics and enthusiasts helping you become part of the future of work now.  2030 is nearer than the year 2000, and we all know how that went. Registration is now open for what will be a fascinating day! #WOW3030

 

Written by: Perry Timms

You can find Perry at www.pthr.co.uk or on Twitter @perrytimms

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