Alvin Toffler on Accelerating Change

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Futurist Alvin Toffler is known for his book Future Shock which discussed the digital revolution, communication revolution, corporate revolution and and early version of the technological Singularity. Some have called him the Ray Kurzweil of his day.
Alvin Toffler is an American writer and futurist, known for his works discussing the digital revolution, communication revolution, corporate revolution and technological Singularity.  Some have called him the Ray Kurzweil of his day.

A former associate editor of Fortune magazine, Toffler's early work focused on technology and its impact (through effects like information overload). Then he moved to examining the reaction of and changes in society. His later focus has been on the increasing power of 21st century military hardware, weapons and technology proliferation, and capitalism.

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In his book, Future Shock , Toffler defines the term "future shock" as a certain psychological state of individuals and entire societies. His shortest definition for the term is a personal perception of "too much change in too short a period of time".

According to Toffler, "As the pace of technology accelerates, as the pieces are laid into place, the pattern seems clear: We might create an artificial man. As work proceeds on the brain, it may one day be possible to combine all the elements into a life-like duplication of flesh and blood. The momentum is established, but the direction is up to us. Is there danger in the path we are taking? What happens to the definition of man, who is he? What is he?”

The book, which became an international bestseller, grew out of an article "The Future as a Way of Life" in Horizon magazine, Summer 1965 issue. The book has sold over 6 million copies and has been widely translated.

The film below came out in 1972 and features Orson Welles as the narrator. There is an almost amusing high amount of paranoia in regards to the future, while other segments (like people choosing their own skin color) are downright hilarious. It is worth viewing - at the very least for its historical value.

Future Shock is an excellent companion to contemporary books tackling the same issue, such as Kevin Kelly’s What Technology Wants, placing our modern fears in perspective.

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