R.I.P.–Alvin Toffler

“The future always comes too fast and in the wrong order.”–Alvin Toffler

Alvin Toffler

Alvin Toffler

The world lost its foremost futurist in the past week,  a man who was one of my heroes.   Alvin Toffler taught the world how to think about the future some 45 years ago.  It’s a lesson the world should relearn.   I read Future Shock way back in 1973–and have been thinking about it–and the future–ever since.

The quote above describes the cause of the disease–the human psychological malady–he calls future shock.  He made me think about the implications of a future that comes too fast and too hard for most people to comprehend or tolerate.  It made me think about the dangers of thinking improperly about the future–or avoiding the thought of it at all.  I’ll go into detail on these issues–and the potential remedies thereof–in future posts.  In the meantime, I take off my virtual digital hat to the man who just may have been the foremost futurist of all time.

Writing in the New York Times on July 6, Farhad Manjoo lays out clearly and concisely why Toffler’s ideas are so relevant today.  I highly urge you to read this piece, and to read Future Shock if you’ve never done so.  I intend to reread it now.  We have never needed foresight more than we do today.

For (mostly) lighter fare,  visit my other blog,  The Millennium Conjectures.

 

Welcome

“Never predict  anything, especially the future.”–Casey Stengel

 The Ol’ Perfessor knew what he was talking about.   Well, maybe he didn’t, but the advice is sage nonetheless.  It is notoriously difficult to predict anything in the future with consistent accuracy.  So why in the world would anyone want to become a futurist?  Why bother?  Well, to be blunt, that is exactly why!  Ignoring the opportunities and dangers of the future is what I like to call The Ostrich Syndrome.  Go ahead, hide your head in the sand.  The future is not going to go away;  it will get here.  And if we can’t predict it, there are certainly ways to prepare for it.  To prevent bad outcomes, or at least make them less likely.  To create good outcomes, or at least make them more likely.  And to be  better prepared to deal with whatever does come.

The sad fact is, we live in a short-term oriented society with a short attention span.  So what is the antidote to this malady?  It is more thoughtful foresight.  We have everything to gain and nothing to lose.  Kurt  Vonnegut compared science fiction writers like himself to the proverbial canary in the mine shaft, warning of weak danger signals before others perceive them.  That’s what futurists do, though those weak signals can signal opportunities as well as dangers as the world changes.  That’s what I aim to do with the rest of my life.  I’ve enrolled in the  University of Houston’s Masters in Foresight program.  I’m adding a foresight element to a friend’s existing market research business.  I’m becoming an advocate for taking a longer view of everything.  Economics. Education. Environment. Government. You name it.  This my second blog, aptly named Seeking Delphi after the famed Oracle of Delphi.  We can’t predict the future, but we can anticipate the possibilities, avoid the catastrophes (or some of them) and create the opportunities.

See the about page for my background, and see the link below for a book review I published in 1999 in the Reed Elsevier journal Futures.   It provides a very succinct view of my personal philosophy on how we should view the future.    Here goes something.  See you tomorrow and beyond…

sackler review F31 April 1999

 

 

 

Welcome

“Never predict  anything, especially the future.”–Casey Stengel

 The Ol’ Perfessor knew what he was talking about.   Well, maybe he didn’t, but the advice is sage nonetheless.  It is notoriously difficult to predict anything in the future with consistent accuracy.  So why in the world would anyone want to become a futurist?  Why bother?  Well, to be blunt, that is exactly why!  Ignoring the opportunities and dangers of the future is what I like to call The Ostrich Syndrome.  Go ahead, hide your head in the sand.  The future is not going to go away;  it will get here.  And if we can’t predict it, there are certainly ways to prepare for it.  To prevent bad outcomes, or at least make them less likely.  To create good outcomes, or at least make them more likely.  And to be  better prepared to deal with whatever does come.

The sad fact is, we live in a short-term oriented society with a short attention span.  So what is the antidote to this malady?  It is more thoughtful foresight.  We have everything to gain and nothing to lose.  Kurt  Vonnegut compared science fiction writers like himself to the proverbial canary in the mine shaft, warning of weak danger signals before others perceive them.  That’s what futurists do, though those weak signals can signal opportunities as well as dangers as the world changes.  That’s what I aim to do with the rest of my life.  I’ve enrolled in the  University of Houston’s Masters in Foresight program.  I’m adding a foresight element to a friend’s existing market research business.  I’m becoming an advocate for taking a longer view of everything.  Economics. Education. Environment. Government. You name it.  This my second blog, aptly named Seeking Delphi after the famed Oracle of Delphi.  We can’t predict the future, but we can anticipate the possibilities, avoid the catastrophes (or some of them) and create the opportunities.

See the about page for my background, and see the link below for a book review I published in 1999 in the Reed Elsevier journal Futures.   It provides a very succinct view of my personal philosophy on how we should view the future.    Here goes something.  See you tomorrow and beyond…

sackler review F31 April 1999