Alvin Toffler, the hugely influential “futurist” who correctly predicted our rising anxiety with digital and technological progress in the 1970 book Future Shock, died Monday night at his home in Los Angeles. No cause of death was given. He was 87.
In his books and articles, Toffler theorized “the convergence of science, capital, and communications was producing such swift change that it was creating an entirely new kind of society.”
From his NY Times obituary:
His predictions about the consequences to culture, the family, government and the economy were remarkably accurate. He foresaw the development of cloning, the popularity and influence of personal computers and the invention of the internet, cable television, and telecommuting.
“The roaring current of change,” he said, was fracturing marriages, overwhelming families, and causing “confusional breakdowns” which manifested in rising crime, drug use, and social alienation. He saw these phenomena as challenging the very structures of communities, institutions, and nations…
Back in the ’90s, Alvin spoke to World of Wonder and predicted the rise of social media surveillance as a means to topple corrupt governments.
“Big Brother ain’t gonna know what hit him until there are literally millions and millions and millions of camcorders in the hands of poor people, in the hands of minorities, in the hands of terrorists… And I believe this is NOT something our present political structures going to be able to accommodate…”
Watch this amazing interview below:
Pretty prescient stuff, huh?
Toffler is also credited with having coined the term “information overload” to describe people’s struggle to keep up with exponentially expanding data.
Among his other famous quotes:
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
“If you don’t have a strategy, you’re part of someone else’s strategy.”
“Change is not merely necessary to life — it is life.”
“It is no longer resources that limit decisions, it is the decision that makes the resources.”
And perhaps most famous: “The future always comes too fast and in the wrong order.”
(via NBC News)