Feb 13, 2020

Special Edition: After Shock and The Legacy of Alvin Toffler

Posted by in category: futurism

Seeking Delphi host Mark Sackler discusses After Shock, the new book that reflects on the 50 year legacy of Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock, with two of the contributing essayists. (Andrew Curry and Jerome Glenn)


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  1. flashgordon says:

    Alvin Toffler, in his “Third Wave” points out the three waves of civilization — Agriculture as first wave, Industrialism as second wave, and the third wave, is the nanotech, and A.I. and information age. The third wave is still coming.

    Alvin further associates the three social power levers with each wave of civilization — violence with agriculturalism/ money with Industrialism, and knowledge with the Third wave — whatever you want to call this Third wave civilization.

    So, he suggests that the transition from the Industrial era to the “Third Wave” civilization will come with a Powershift from money as the dominant social power lever to knowledge. I’d say we’re still not quite in this “Third Wave” civilization.

    Alvin shows how each power lever can substitute for one another. Force can be used to coerce knowledge out of someone or money. Money can buy knowledge or a gun, and Knowledge can make a gun or money. But, knowledge is different because it is comparatively limitless, while force and money are generally finite.

    In a true knowledge driven society, people settle their disputes by facts and logic. When proven wrong, they do so based on facts and logic presented to them. In the past, when someone does something wrong, they either beat the person presenting the facts/logic proving him/her wrong, or pay them off. They fear being proven wrong, and they use fear and violence, and even money to cover up — might makes right.

    We are not in the “Third Wave” civilization yet. Alvin Toffler points out that one reason violence seems to less used in today’s Industrial era, is because it has been packaged as “the law”. Behind the law is the threat of violence and weapons. As he points out in his ‘Third Wave” book, the worlds nations governments work almost like a business. They tax their people to run their business. What’s more, to help drive their economies, all industrial Nations had to resort to imperialism. To sustain their imperialism, they needed a military to ensure the trade lanes. This is one sign that we are still in the Industrial past.

    I would suspect that we won’t be in the “Third Wave” civilization till we are in the nano-manufacturing era. Then, people will make things by their own knowledge, and not have have a job to get the money to get the food.