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Alvin Toffler, the noted futurist, passed away last week. He was Toffler saw it all before it happened. He saw that knowledge would replace labor and capital as the key driver of wealth creation and called this new era The Information Age. In short, he got the big picture right. I interviewed him then about his last book, Revolutionary Wealth , written with his wife and muse Heidi. How is this new system a departure from the economics we're familiar with?
In two ways: First, knowledge is now the key driver of wealth creation, and, second, the radical fusion of production and consumption will lead to the explosion of the "non-money" economy. Conventional economics is about scarcity. But knowledge is essentially inexhaustible. If you grow rice in a paddy, I can't grow rice in the same paddy at the same time. If you use a machine tool, I can't use it at the same time. But we can both use the same knowledge at the same time — and not deplete it.
No matter how many people use arithmetic, it doesn't get used up. In fact, the more people use knowledge together, the more new knowledge they tend to create. It's more portable than any other product. It can be compressed into symbols and abstractions. It tends to leak and is hard to protect. It's non-linear, so that tiny insights can yield huge outputs. Above all, it's intangible. Intangible factors have always been entwined with tangible assets. These intangibles are like the protective skin around an orange.
Today, companies like Google are all orange peel. They have no tangible core. Yet they are worth billions! In advanced economies the tangible property base of capitalism is being outpaced by the intangibles. Just consider the dramatic development of the "outside brain" -- data banks, connectivity, word searches, genetic mapping or the World Wide Web -- that radically expands our capacity and possibilities in almost every realm.
And the knowledge at our disposal will only continue to grow. Everything a person remembers in a year lifespan can be stored digitally on a 6-gigabyte chip. And today we have gigabytes in a personal computer!
At the same time, it is becoming harder and harder to protect many intangible assets — harder, for example, to enforce intellectual property rights. What do you mean by the non-money economy — and why do you say it is going to explode? When we work at a job, when we buy and sell, when we invest, when we use our credit or debit cards, we are operating inside the money economy. But that doesn't end the list of things we do with our lives.
We raise children. We care for our elders. We fix a leaky faucet. We help a friend paint the living room. We cook. We clean up our house. We garden. We jump-start the car battery. The do-it-yourself activities might be called "prosuming," because we are both the producer and consumer. We sometimes pay people to do many of these things for us. When we do, we're operating in the money economy, and the activities are seen by economists as creating value in the gross domestic product. If, however, we choose to do these things ourselves, or if poverty requires us to do so, our efforts would not be added to GDP and would not be counted as having added any value to the economy — i.
The non-money economy may well create as much value as the money economy because a myriad of unpaid activities feed "free lunch" into the money economy. In effect, they subsidize it. Just stop for a minute to think about Linux open-source software and the huge impact it's had all around the world.
Here is a product initially produced by Linus Torvalds without pay, almost as a hobby, which then attracted large numbers of unpaid programmers to adapt, adjust and expand it, encouraging still others to volunteer time producing other kinds of software.
This prosumer activity in the non-money economy has transformed the way software products in the money economy are produced. Prosuming has been with us a long time. More and more companies in the money economy are externalizing labor by requiring customers to perform tasks previously done for them by employees. We use ATMs and punch in the data ourselves — and tellers get laid off.
That is prosuming. We used to send film off to Kodak to be developed and printed. Today we perform those functions ourselves in the palms of our hands. We take our own diabetes readings.
We produce our own digital movies and music CDs. All this is just the beginning. We are going to see an explosion of unpaid work. Soon there will be 1 billion people over They will be using new technologies, from self-diagnosis to toilet urinalysis, to do for themselves what doctors used to do. All this will make the prosumers far more important. We'll buy technology in the money economy and use it in the non-money economy that, in turn, will feed back into the creation of new value in the money economy.
Just wait until desktop manufacturing — still in its infancy — puts the equivalent of a small factory in everyone's home. Doesn't this externalization of labor from the producer to the consumer also put new costs and burdens on the consumer? We call this externalization of labor the "third job. Your second job is taking care of yourself, your kids, your parents or your home, cleaning up or doing the dishes. The third job is the work being "outsourced" by the producer not to India or the Philippines, but to you, the consumer, from the friendly companies all around you.
Now, I'm my own clerk. I go to my computer, punch in the tracking number and trace the package myself. I'm doing what the clerk used to do and was paid for. The same is true when we use an ATM machine. We do what the teller used to do. Clearly, this adds to our daily stress and is yet another reason we always seem to have less and less disposable time. And just by making transactions in cyberspace, we are providing valuable personal information that marketing companies used to have to find out through research and had to pay for.
Every time you do a Google search, it is tracked and noted so that advertisers can match their product to your interests for future marketing. Absolutely, this is another aspect of the "third job.
Some consumer advocates are already starting to demand payment for the sale and use of their personal information, whether revealed by their purchases at the supermarket or a visit to a website. How is the knowledge-based system affecting what you call in the book the "deep fundamentals" of wealth creation — time, for example? In two key ways. First, we are leaving behind the impersonal, collective time of standardized mass industrial society where everyone works from 9 to 5, going to the job and coming home at the same time.
That time is homogenous. Now we are seeing the advent of personalized, irregular time. New technology reduces the costs of variety that would have undermined mass assembly. It enables niche production and thereby customization and diversification in how we schedule our daily lives, both at work and at play.
Second, when you accelerate changes in technology and society, by definition you accelerate the rate at which knowledge becomes obsolete. What we "know" is undone almost on a daily basis, whether because we've discovered a new planet or uncovered the chromosome linked to hypertension. This acceleration can transform current knowledge into what we call "obsoledge" — outdated information — overnight.
Time and the rapid decay of knowledge are very much related in an information society. In the past, both truths and untruths endured for centuries, if not millennia, without challenge. Now, much of our decision-making is based on facts that could change tomorrow or are already obsolete.
What kind of problems does this diversification and acceleration of time produce? They are out of sync. One of the biggest clashes is with standardized education, which was originally designed to turn the children of farmers into industrial workers comfortable with the requirements and rhythms of a mass society.
Education is among the slowest institutions to adapt to the new wealth system. If you were a cop at the side of the road monitoring the speed of the cars going by, you would clock the car of business, which is always changing rapidly under competitive pressures, at miles per hour.
But the car of education, which is supposedly preparing our young for the future, is only going 10 mph.
Shock Futuro by Toffler Alvin
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Alvin Toffler Saw The Future Before It Arrived
He was His death was confirmed by his consulting firm, Toffler Associates , based in Reston, Va. Toffler was a self-trained social science scholar and successful freelance magazine writer in the mids when he decided to spend five years studying the underlying causes of a cultural upheaval that he saw overtaking the United States and other developed countries. Toffler to international fame.
Alvin Toffler, Author of ‘Future Shock,’ Dies at 87
Future Shock is a book by the futurist Alvin Toffler ,   in which the author defines the term " future shock " as a certain psychological state of individuals and entire societies. The shortest definition for the term in the book is a personal perception of "too much change in too short a period of time". The book, which became an international bestseller, grew out of an article "The Future as a Way of Life" in Horizon magazine , Summer issue. A documentary film based on the book was released in with Orson Welles as on-screen narrator.
ISBN 13: 9788401370977