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Future Shock Trends Beyond 2010 - Toffler Technology Predictions

How much change can you absorb and manage? Culture shock was introduced as a book by Alvin & Heidi Toffler, then a movie hosted by Orson Welles. It defined prosumers and information overload...but do you need a technology and cultural update for 2010 and beyond?

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"Too much change in too short a time... reactions to change happens so fast we can't absorb them..." says Orson Welles. Released into our everyday conversation in 1972 by the Tofflers, Alvin and

In Future Shock, the Tofflers hammered home the point that technology, culture, and even life itself was evolving too fast for individuals, governments, policy-makers and regulators to keep up. Forty years later, that message hasn't changed.

Toffler Forecast Accuracy

  • Contemporary events radiate instantaneously around the world: CNN, Twitter, Facebook, texting
  • A shift from nation‐state to civil‐society social power structures: Greenpeace, Clinton Global Initiative, Herb Allen’s Sun Valley Conference
  • The rise of psycho‐pharmacological treatment: Prozac, now used for depression, anxiety, irritability, insomnia
  • Interactive virtual reality films: Gaming, Simulators
  • Things moving faster, people adapt (to a point), meltdown can occur: road/airplane rage, school shootings, military service personnel violence
  • Increase in home‐schooling of children: 1.5 million children in 2007, +74% since 1999

    And trends they noted are still coming to fruition, such as implantable sensors such as Pet‐Track, that monitors vital signs. The fusion of biology and computers in bioinformatics, is the intersection of biology, computer science and IT, allowing scientists to peer deeper into fundamental processes of life.

    In the information arena, they noted technical breakthroughs that would alter the economics of television by providing more channels and lowering the costs of production: and today there are 500+ broadcast channels and streaming Internet video such as YouTube.

    The Service sector vastly enlarged: in 1950 the service sector was 45% of the nonagricultural workforce; in 2001 it was 80% and service jobs are still growing.

    Education increasingly occurs outside the classroom at hours of the students’ choosing with collaborative learning (Web 2.0, social networking tools such as blogs, wikis).

    Personal computers numbered 1 billion in use in 2008, and these information tools are expected to double by 2014.

    Computer‐based intelligent agents are increasingly used by retailers and ecommerce to customize push based on prior purchase habits

    Community is redefined as an interconnected network‐based society: with the rise of like-minded interest‐based groups (e.g., Harley Davidson owners)

    But job skills become irrelevant over time and there's an increasingly high skill demands of today’s factory workers render others obsolete. Professional and technical populations are today's most mobile careers with the number of jobs in a career now averaging 10+.

    And to top this cascade of change, families have been redefined and decades have been added to life spans. We're mixing it up with multi‐values and vastly different lifestyles.

    Commitments shift from place‐related social structure to place‐less ones: geographic migration is on the rise and computers have growing impact on connectivity. Many of the new Tofflerian predictions are predictable:

    • China will rise
    • Cities will grow
    • Social Security will cease to exist
    • Iran's leaders will remain irrational
    • And "work will continue to expand to fill whatever time and space is available."
    Other scenarios are the outfield forecasts you'd expect from the Tofflers and their way of thinking:
    • Nanotech factories
    • Quantum computing
    • Resource struggles give way to limitless fresh water and clean energy
    • Bio-implants blur the line between man and machine
    • The Singularity is coming in the foreseeable future
    The Toffler team predicts opportunities and vulnerabilities of a increasingly networked world.

    These long term security risks are central to some of the Toffler clients, such as the Department of Homeland Security, and each of its predictions has security implications, including nanotech surveillance devices and recruiting through social networks, and computer impacts on encryption.

    Sensors will be put into everything, our food, our roads, our electricity. And that's cutting edge innovation today with the IBM initiative called the "Smarter Planet".

    Just as stress and anxiety were the vulnerabilities of recent history, technology on steroids will create huge vulnerabilities that even governments will struggle to understand, track and govern.

    Remember "Future Shock" and how it shocked YOU?

    This 9 minute historic footage will reintroduce you to the fears that your parents faced, and the reality that the young adults of today take for granted.

    But the power of YouTube takes you beyond the introduction to Future Shock -- here are the additional chapters of the cultural transformation that is shaping our today and tomorrow.

    Future Shock 2 of 5

    Future Shock 3 of 5

    Future Shock 4 of 5

    Future Shock 5 of 5

    Leap forward into 2010 for Future Trends

    Here's a hint of what the Tofflers are predicting now:
    • Crowdsourcing becomes ubiquitous, evolving into a hybrid of networks like Innocentive, and multiplayer games like World of Warcraft. Technologies are no longer developed in-house. Corporate R&D becomes specialized, and the most successful integrate large problem-solver networks into their process. "Answer seekers" are linked with "problem solvers" across the globe.
    • "Philanthro-capitalists" and "hyper-empowered individuals" accumulate wealth, networks, and resources that exceed those of nation-states. Bill Gates will do more to eradicate malaria than any NGO or government and Oscar Morales, an engineer used Facebook to organize million-strong protests against the Colombian FARC.
    • Prosumers and "prosumption" will foster radical transparency as industrial-strength analysis tools give individuals sight into companies and governments, as well as tools to tell others what they find.
    • Threats to national security include data that sits on the military's and intelligence agenices servers unanalyzed due to the data glut or obsolete as rapidly changing data changes priorities.
    READ MORE deatils about the Tofflers at Fast Company.

    Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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