Tag Archives: Wired

The ‘Future Book’ Is Here, but It’s Not What We Expected

Books have been unchanged for a century or more. Even ebooks are just print books digitized. But digital technology has transformed the entire ecosystem around them: Print-on-demand, Kickstarter, social media, email newsletters, audiobooks, podcasting, and more. [Craig Mod] www.wired.com…

I can think of two reasons why books themselves have been unchanged, despite breathless 1990s predictions to the contrary — and yeah these reasons are contradictory:

  • Books are perfect for what they are. Mass-published print books have been evolving for a thousand years, and the written word has evolved over ten thousand years. Books are mature technology, like shovels and forks and tables, refined to perfection with only a little bit of fiddling left to do around the edges. Sure, other media emerge, but they’re other media; a movie is not a book, nor is a podcast.
  • Monopolization by Amazon stifles innovation. We’re not going to see ebook innovation until somebody competes with the Kindle.

The future — probably — isn’t as scary as you think

In an interview with the Freakonomics podcast, Kelly acknowledges that artificial intelligence will be a threat in some ways, but promises great benefits.

“Artificial intelligence will become a commodity like electricity, which will be delivered to you over the grid called the cloud. You can buy as much of it as you want and most of its power will be invisible to you as well,” says Kelly, who co-founded Wired in 1993 and whose new book, “The Inevitable,” is about the “deep trends” of the next 20 years.

Most people think that most jobs in the future will be taken over by AI — but not their own jobs, Kelly says.

From what we’ve seen of AI so far, it’s most powerful when paired with human judgment. A person working with an AI is a better chess player or doctor than a person or AI alone, Kelly says.