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Alvin Toffler

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. A former associate editor of Fortune magazine, his 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. He is married to Heidi Toffler, also a writer and futurist.

His ideas

Toffler explains, "Society needs people who take care of the elderly and who know how to be compassionate and honest. Society needs people who work in hospitals. Society needs all kinds of skill 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, there is a lot of diversity in lifestyles ("subcults"). Adhocracies (fluid organizations like, say, the Wikipedia community) adapt quickly to changes. Information can substitute most of the material resources (see ersatz) and becomes the main material for workers (cognitarian s instead of proletarians), who are loosely affiliated. Mass customization enables cheap production of personalized products catering to small niches (see just in time production). The gap between producer and consumer is bridged by technology. "Prosumers" can fill their own needs (see Open Source, assembly kit , freelance work).

During the 1980s, he was read and listened to across the world as people tried to make sense 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. Techno music pioneer Juan Atkins cites Toffler's phrase "techno rebels" in Future Shock as inspiring him to use the word "techno" to describe the musical style he helped to create.

Toffler's works and ideas have been subject to various criticism, usually with the same argumentation used against futurology, that is that foreseeing the future is nigh impossible. In the 1990s, his ideas were publicly lauded by Newt Gingrich.

His books

A few of his well-known works are:

The Shockwave Rider is a science-fiction novel inspired by his Future Shock.

See also

Last updated: 02-07-2005 05:12:12
Last updated: 02-24-2005 04:26:49