Open Future NZ

"The responsibility for change lies with us"

printPrintable Pageprint

Alvin Toffler

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and edited by John Veitch

Alvin Toffler (born October 3, 1928) is an American writer and futurist, known for his works discussing the digital revolution, communications revolution, corporate revolution and technological singularity. His early work focused on technology and its impact (through effects like information overload). His later focus has been on the increasing power of 21st century military hardware, weapons and technology proliferation, and capitalism.

He has also been described in the Financial Times as the "world's most famous futurologist". People's Daily classes him among the 50 foreigners that shaped modern China.

His ideas

Toffler explains, "Society needs people who work in hospitals. Society needs all kinds of skills that are not just cognitive; they're emotional, they're affectional. You can't run the society on data and computers alone."

In his book The Third Wave Toffler describes three types of societies, based on the concept of 'waves' - each wave pushes the older societies and cultures aside.

In this post-industrial society, mass customization offers the possibility of cheap, personalized, production catering to small niches. The gap between producer and consumer is bridged by technology so 'prosumers' can fill their own needs. This was the notion that new technologies are enabling the radical fusion of the producer and consumer into the prosumer. In some cases prosuming entails a 'third job' where the unpaid consumer does the work. For instance when we do our own banking through an ATM instead of a teller that the bank must employ, or trace our own postal packages on the internet instead of relying on a paid clerk.

Alvin Toffler explains the three waves of change leading to the information society.  We are in the middle of this change but most of us behave as though nothing is happening.  Both the Democrats and the Republicans in the USA are defenders of old and redundant ideas. 

China is trying to create a harmonious society.  Socially China is close to boiling point.  Community protest is common.  GDP growth cannot for long continue at present rates in China. 
Alvin Toffler - Revolutionary Wealth (26 min)

Since the 1960s, people have been trying to make sense out of the impact of new technologies and social change. Toffler's writings have been influential beyond the confines of scientific, economic and public policy discussions.

The development Toffler believes may go down as this era's greatest turning point is the creation of wealth in outer space. Global positioning satellites are key to synchronising precision time and data streams for everything from cellphone calls to ATM withdrawals. They allow just-in-time productivity because of precise tracking. GPS is also becoming central to air-traffic control. And satellites increase agricultural productivity through tracking weather, enabling more accurate forecasts.

Your comment on this essay is welcomed. Comments (0)