The Inevitable
The Inevitable

The Inevitable

Table of Contents

I think the computer age did not really start until this moment, when computers merged with the telephone. Stand-alone computers were inadequate. All the enduring consequences of computation did not start until the early 1980s, that moment when computers married phones and melded into a robust hybrid. (Location 83)

Note: The computer age really kicked off when the computer merged with the telephone

We are morphing so fast that our ability to invent new things outpaces the rate we can civilize them. (Location 106)

These days it takes us a decade after a technology appears to develop a social consensus on what it means and what etiquette we need to tame it. In another five years we’ll find a polite place for twittering, just as we figured out what to do with cell phones ringing everywhere. (Use silent vibrators.) Just like that, this initial response will disappear quickly and we’ll see it was neither essential nor inevitable. (Location 107)

Note: After we develop a technology it takes us a long time to form consensus on etIquette

Banning the inevitable usually backfires. Prohibition is at best temporary, and in the long run counterproductive. (Location 129)

At the center of every significant change in our lives today is a technology of some sort. Technology is humanity’s accelerant. (Location 142)

Tags: technology

Note: .technology technology is humanities accelerant

Our greatest invention in the past 200 years was not a particular gadget or tool but the invention of the scientific process itself. (Location 146)

Becoming, Cognifying, Flowing, Screening, Accessing, Sharing, Filtering, Remixing, Interacting, Tracking, Questioning, and then Beginning. (Location 179)


Note: the internet is just starting. Nobody predicted that consumers would create the majority of content on the web. We will progress hugely in the coming decades

A world without discomfort is utopia. But it is also stagnant. A world perfectly fair in some dimensions would be horribly unfair in others. A utopia has no problems to solve, but therefore no opportunities either. (Location 231)

Neither old ABC nor startup Yahoo! created the content for 5,000 web channels. Instead billions of users created the content for all the other users. There weren’t 5,000 channels but 500 million channels, all customer generated. (Location 342)

Tags: user content, youtube

The disruption ABC could not imagine was that this “internet stuff” enabled the formerly dismissed passive consumers to become active creators. The revolution launched by the web was only marginally about hypertext and human knowledge. At its heart was a new kind of participation that has since developed into an emerging culture based on sharing. And the ways of “sharing” enabled by hyperlinks are now creating a new type of thinking—part human and part machine—found nowhere else on the planet or in history. The web has unleashed a new becoming. (Location 343)

Tags: sharing, internet

In 30 years it will be. The tendrils of hyperlinks will keep expanding to connect all the bits. The events that take place in a console game will be as searchable as the news. You’ll be able to look for things that occur inside a YouTube video. Say you want to find the exact moment on your phone when your sister received her acceptance to college. (Location 413)

Tags: search

Note: Search inside content


Note: ai will transform work and replace many jobs. New jobs will emerge. It is important to work with the ai

You could also apply AI to law, using it to uncover evidence from mountains of paper to discern inconsistencies between cases, and then have it suggest lines of legal arguments. (Location 548)

Tags: legaltech, ai

Facebook has the ability to ramp up an AI that can view a photo portrait of any person on earth and correctly identify them out of some 3 billion people online. (Location 673)

Tags: tweet, clearview

Note: .clearview .tweet


The initial age of computing borrowed from the industrial age. As Marshall McLuhan observed, the first version of a new medium imitates the medium it replaces. The first commercial computers employed the metaphor of the office. Our screens had a “desktop” and “folders” and “files.” They were hierarchically ordered, like much of the industrial age that the computer was overthrowing. The second digital age overturned the office metaphor and brought us the organizing principle of the web. The basic unit was no longer files but “pages.” Pages were not organized into folders, but were arranged into a networked web. The web was a billion hyperlinked pages which contained everything, both stored information and active knowledge. (Location 960)

A universal law of economics says the moment something becomes free and ubiquitous, its position in the economic equation suddenly inverts. When nighttime electrical lighting was new and scarce, it was the poor who burned common candles. Later, when electricity became easily accessible and practically free, our preference flipped and candles at dinner became a sign of luxury. (Location 1016)

Brand companies can command higher prices for similar products and services from companies without brands because they are trusted for what they promise. So trust is an intangible that has increasing value in a copy-saturated world. (Location 1029)

Tags: trust, branding

Note: people pay more when they know they can trust what they’ll get


Over 36 million Kindles and ebook readers with e-ink have been sold. (Location 1363)

Tags: kindle

Note: .kindle

Ebooks today lack the fungibility of the ur-text of screening: Wikipedia. But eventually the text of ebooks will be liberated in the near future, and the true nature of books will blossom. We will find out that books never really wanted to be printed telephone directories, or hardware catalogs on paper, or paperback how-to books. These are jobs that screens and bits are much superior at—all that updating and searching—tasks that neither paper nor narratives are suited for. What those kinds of books have always wanted was to be annotated, marked up, underlined, bookmarked, summarized, cross-referenced, hyperlinked, shared, and talked to. Being digital allows them to do all that and more. (Location 1389)

Tags: readwise, kindle, ebooks

Note: digital technology liberates the knowledge stored in books.

Reading becomes social. With screens we can share not just the titles of books we are reading, but our reactions and notes as we read them. Today, we can highlight a passage. Tomorrow, we will be able to link passages. We can add a link from a phrase in the book we are reading to a contrasting phrase in another book we’ve read, from a word in a passage to an obscure dictionary, from a scene in a book to a similar scene in a movie. (All these tricks will require tools for finding relevant passages.) We might subscribe to the marginalia feed from someone we respect, so we get not only their reading list but their marginalia—highlights, notes, questions, musings. (Location 1400)

Tags: readwise

Note: .readwise link relevant passages in different books. Subscribe to the notes of those we respect

Dense hyperlinking among books would make every book a networked event. The conventional vision of the book’s future assumes that books will remain isolated items, independent from one another, just as they are on the shelves in your public library.

There, each book is pretty much unaware of the ones next to it. When an author completes a work, it is fixed and finished. Its only movement comes when a reader picks it up to enliven it with his or her imagination.

The main advantage of the coming digital library is portability—the nifty translation of a book’s full text into bits, which permits it to be read on a screen anywhere. (Location 1408)

Tags: books, reading, ebooks

Note: .ebooks

Turning inked letters into electronic dots that can be read on a screen is simply the first essential step in creating this new library.

The real magic will come in the second act, as each word in each book is cross-linked, clustered, cited, extracted, indexed, analyzed, annotated, and woven deeper into the culture than ever before.

In the new world of ebooks and etexts, every bit informs another; every page reads all the other pages. (Location 1413)

Tags: readwise, ebooks

Note: .ebooks

In the universal library, no book will be an island. It’s all connected. (Location 1413)

Tags: ebooks, readwise

Note: .readwise no bok is an island

In addition to a link, which explicitly connects one word or sentence or book to another, readers will also be able to add tags. Smart AI-based search technology overcomes the need for overeducated classification systems so user-generated tags are enough to find things. Indeed, the sleepless smartness in AI will tag text and images automatically in the millions, so that the entire universal library will yield its wisdom to any who seek it. (Location 1458)

Tags: readwise

Over the next three decades, scholars and fans, aided by computational algorithms, will knit together the books of the world into a single networked literature. A reader will be able to generate a social graph of an idea, or a timeline of a concept, or a networked map of influence for any notion in the library. We’ll come to understand that no work, no idea stands alone, but that all good, true, and beautiful things are ecosystems of intertwined parts and related entities, past and present. (Location 1477)

Tags: ebooks

Note: .ebooks knit together the books of the world

once digitized, books can be unraveled into single pages or be reduced further, into snippets of a page. These snippets will be remixed into reordered books and virtual bookshelves. Just as the music audience now juggles and reorders songs into new albums or playlists, the universal networked library will encourage the creation of virtual “bookshelves”—a collection of texts, some as short as a paragraph, others as long as entire books—that form a library shelf’s worth of specialized information. And as with music playlists, once created, these “bookshelves” or playlists for books will be published and swapped in the public commons. (Location 1483)

Tags: readwise

Libraries (as well as many individuals) aren’t eager to relinquish old-fashioned ink-on-paper editions, because the printed book is by far the most durable and reliable long-term storage technology we have. Printed books require no mediating device to read and thus are immune to technological obsolescence. (Location 1495)

Tags: books

Note: .books printed books are immune to obsolescence

A book is an attention unit. A fact is interesting, an idea is important, but only a story, a good argument, a well-crafted narrative is amazing, never to be forgotten. As Muriel Rukeyser said, “The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.” (Location 1529)

Tags: books, stories

Note: We need the story in order to remember


Possession is not as important as it once was. Accessing is more important than ever. (Location 1625)

Tags: sharing economy

Note: why own when you can access on demand.

Pretend you live inside the world’s largest rental store. Why would you own anything? You can borrow whatever you need within arm’s reach. Instant borrowing gives you most of the benefits of owning and few of its disadvantages. You have no responsibility to clean, to repair, to store, to sort, to insure, to upgrade, to maintain. (Location 1626)

Tags: favorite, sharing economy

Note: We own less posessions when we can rent on demand

Access is so superior to ownership in many ways that it is driving the frontiers of the economy. (Location 1633)

Tags: sharing economy

Note: Access is superior to ownership

As cars become more digital, they will tend to be swapped and shared and used in the same social way we swap digital media. The more we embed intelligence and smarts into the objects in our households and offices, the more we’ll treat these articles as social property. (Location 1661)

Tags: cars

Note: .cars As objects get more sensors and Connectivity we will treat them more like social property

Products encourage ownership, but services discourage ownership because the kind of exclusivity, control, and responsibility that comes with ownership privileges are missing from services. (Location 1668)

The switch from “ownership that you purchase” to “access that you subscribe to” overturns many conventions. Ownership is casual, fickle. If something better comes along, grab it. A subscription, on the other hand, gushes a never-ending stream of updates, issues, and versions that force a constant interaction between the producer and the consumer. It is not a onetime event; it’s an ongoing relationship. To access a service, a customer is often committing to it in a far stronger way than when he or she purchases an item. (Location 1669)

Tags: ownership

Take transportation as an example. How do you get from point A to point B? Today you can do it in one of eight ways with a vehicle:

Buy a car, drive yourself (the default today).

Hire a company to drive you to your destination (taxi).

Rent a company-owned car, drive yourself (Hertz rental).

Hire a peer to drive you to your destination (Uber).

Rent a car from a peer, drive yourself (RelayRides).

Hire a company to drive you with shared passengers along a fixed route (bus).

Hire a peer to drive you with shared passengers to your destination (Lyft Line).

Hire a peer to drive you with shared passengers going to a fixed destination (BlaBlaCar). (Location 1716)

Tags: transport

Note: .transport via professionals,peers or self

If I rent a bag to you, I cannot rent the same bag to another. In order to grow a rental business of physical things, the owner has to keep buying more boats or bags. But, of course, intangible goods and services don’t work this way. They are “nonrival,” which means you can rent the same movie to as many people who want to rent it this hour. Sharing intangibles scales magnificently. This ability to share on a large scale without diminishing the satisfaction of the individual renter is transformative. The total cost of use drops precipitously (shared by millions instead of one). Suddenly, consumer ownership is not so important. Why own when you get the same real-time utility from renting, leasing, licensing, sharing? (Location 1753)

just subscribe to Universal Stuff. The arty pictures on my wall keep changing so I don’t take them for granted. I use a special online service that prepares my walls from my collection on Pinterest. My parents subscribe to a museum service that lends them actual historical works of art in rotation, but that is out of my range. (Location 1970)


“No one is as smart as everyone.” (Location 2188)

Tags: crowdsource

Note: .crowdsource the knowledge of the crowd is greater than any one person

The dream of many companies is to graduate from making products to creating a platform. But when they do succeed (like Facebook), they are often not ready for the required transformation in their role; they have to act more like governments than companies in keeping opportunities “flat” and equitable, and hierarchy to a minimum. (Location 2244)

Tags: platform

Note: .platform companies need to transition their governance as they become a platform


Every 12 months we produce 8 million new songs, 2 million new books, 16,000 new films, 30 billion blog posts, 182 billion tweets, 400,000 new products. (Location 2434)

Tags: books, reading

Note: .reading .books 2 million new boks are launched each year

There are three times as many people alive today as when I was born (1952). (Location 2447)

Tags: favorite, population

Note: .population

A filter dedicated to probing one’s dislikes would have to be delicate, but could also build on the powers of large collaborative databases in the spirit of “people who disliked those, learned to like this one.” In somewhat the same vein I also, occasionally, want a bit of stuff I dislike but should learn to like. For me that might be anything related to nutritional supplements, details of political legislation, or hip-hop music. Great teachers have a knack for conveying unsavory packages to the unwilling in a way that does not scare them off; great filters can too. But would anyone sign up for such a filter? (Location 2520)

Tags: filter

Note: .filter open your mind to liking things you dont like

“In a world of abundance, the only scarcity is human attention.” (Location 2606)

Tags: attention

Note: .attention

“too cheap to meter”—too (Location 2811)

Tags: well phrased

Note: .phrase

If you want a glimpse of what we humans do when the robots take our current jobs, look at experiences. That’s where we’ll spend our money (because they won’t be free) and that’s where we’ll make our money. (Location 2823)

Tags: experiences

Note: .experiences we will continue to spend our money on experiences


cannot link from this sentence to only those exact “passages” inside an online movie. We don’t have the equivalent of a hyperlink for film yet. With true screen fluency, I’d be able to cite specific frames of a film or specific items in a frame. (Location 2967)

Tags: search

Note: Link to specific places within movies

The holy grail of visuality is findability—the ability to search the library of all movies the same way Google can search the web, and find a particular focus deep within. You want to be able to type key terms, or simply say, “bicycle plus dog,” and then retrieve scenes in any film featuring a dog and a bicycle. In an instant you could locate the moment in The Wizard of Oz when the witchy Miss Gulch rides off with Toto. Even better, you want to be able to ask Google to find all the other scenes in all movies similar to that scene. That ability is almost here. (Location 2985)

Tags: search

Note: Search within movies

The best apps enable unlimited undos, so you can scroll back as far as you want. The most complex pieces of consumer software in existence, such as Photoshop or Illustrator, employ what is called nondestructive editing, which means you can rewind to any particular previous point you want at any time and restart from there, no matter how many changes you’ve made. The genius of Wikipedia is that it also employs nondestructive editing—all previous versions of an article are kept forever, so any reader can in fact rewind the changes back in time. (Location 3037)

Police will be required by law to record all activity from their wearables while they are on duty. Rewinding police logs will shift public opinion, just as often vindicating police as not. The everyday routines of politicians and celebrities will be subject to scrolling back from multiple viewpoints, creating a new culture where everyone’s past is recallable. Rewindability and findability are just two Gutenberg-like transformations that moving images are undergoing. These two and many other factors of remixing apply to all newly digitized media, such as virtual reality, music, radio, presentations, and so on. (Location 3052)

Tags: rewindability

Note: .rewindability like black mirror, we will be able to record all events and easily rewind them

“He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.” (Location 3061)

Tags: ideas

Note: .ideas

9 INTERACTING (Location 3095)

new portals to synthetic worlds. (Location 3149)

Tags: vr

Note: .vr

Microsoft’s vision for light field AR is to build the office of the future. Instead of workers sitting in a cubicle in front of a wall of monitor screens, they sit in an open office wearing HoloLenses and see a huge wall of virtual screens around them. Or they click to be teleported to a 3-D conference room with a dozen coworkers who live in different cities. Or they click to a training room where an instructor will walk them though a first-aid class, guiding their avatars through the proper procedures. (Location 3179)

Tags: ar

Note: .ar ar may replace monitors

“The trouble with computers is that there is not enough Africa in them.” By that he meant that interacting with computers using only buttons was like dancing with only your fingertips, instead of your full body, as you would in Africa. Embedded microphones, cameras, and accelerometers inject some Africa into devices. They provide embodiment in order to hear us, see us, feel us. Swoosh your hand to scroll. Wave your arms with a Wii. (Location 3250)

Iron Man movies picked up this theme. Tony Stark, the protagonist, also uses his arms to wield virtual 3-D displays of data projected by computers, catching them like a beach ball, rotating bundles of information as if they were objects. It’s very cinematic, but real interfaces in the future are far more likely to use hands closer to the body. Holding your arms out in front of you for more than a minute is an aerobic exercise. For extended use, interaction will more closely resemble sign language. (Location 3263)

Almost any subject I care about has an overlay app that displays it as an apparition. A fair amount of public art is now 3-D mirages. The plaza in our town square hosts an elaborate rotating 3-D projection that is refreshed twice a year, like a museum art show. Most of the buildings downtown are reskinned with alternative facades inside AR, each facade commissioned by an architect or artist. The city looks different each time I walk through it. (Location 3414)

Tags: ar

Note: .ar cities may have ar art and monuments


Most people are lucky to see a doctor once a year to get some aspect of their health measured. But instead of once a year, imagine that every day, all day, invisible sensors measured and recorded your heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, glucose, blood serum, sleep patterns, body fat, activity levels, mood, EKG brain functions, and so on. You would have hundreds of thousands of data points for each of these traits. You would have evidence while at both rest and at full stress, while sick and healthy, in all seasons, all conditions. (Location 3529)

Tags: health, selftracking

Note: .selftracking we could track our health constantly and discover early signs of sickness

Use this very personal database of your body’s record (including your full sequence of genes) to construct personal treatments and personalized medicines. Science would use your life’s log to generate treatments specifically for you.

For instance, a smart personalized pill-making machine in your home (described in Chapter 7) would compound medicines in the exact proportions for your current bodily need. If the treatment in the morning eased the symptoms, the dosage in the evening would be adjusted by the system. (Location 3536)

Tags: medicine, selftracking

Note: .selftracking .medicine personalised medicine

A constant 24/7/365 monitoring of vital body measurements. Imagine how public health would change if we continuously monitored blood glucose in real time. Imagine how your behavior would change if you could, in near real time, detect the presence or absence of biochemicals or toxins in your blood picked up from your environment. (You might conclude: “I’m not going back there!”) This data could serve both as a warning system and also as a personal base upon which to diagnose illness and prescribe medicines. (Location 3668)

Tags: monitoring, data

Note: .data .monitoring real time monitoring of health data

“Recording in a diary is considered admirable. Recording in a spreadsheet is considered creepy.” (Location 3681)

Tags: journal, lifelogging

Note: .lifelogging .journal


Twenty years ago I might have been able to believe that in 2016 we’d have maps for the entire world on our personal handheld devices. But I could not have been convinced we’d have them with street views of the buildings for many cities, or apps that showed the locations of public toilets, and that it would give us spoken directions for walking or public transit, and that we’d have all this mapping and more “for free.” It seemed starkly impossible back then. And this free abundance still seems hard to believe in theory. Yet here it is on hundreds of millions of phones. (Location 3992)

Tags: maps

Note: .maps

Economist Michael Cox asked his students how much they would accept to give up the internet entirely and reported they would not give up the internet for a million dollars. And this was before smartphones became the norm. (Location 4210)

Tags: internet

Note: .internet how much would you need to give up the internet


And who will write the code that makes this global system useful and productive? We will. We think we are merely wasting time when we surf mindlessly or post an item for our friends, but each time we click a link we strengthen a node somewhere in the holos mind, thereby programming it by using it. Think of the 100 billion times per day humans click on a web page as a way of teaching the holos what we think is important. Each time we forge a link between words, we teach this contraption an idea. (Location 4289)

Tags: hyperlinks, internet

Note: we are training the internet by clicking on hyperlinks