Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Alvin Toffler

American Social Commentator, Editor, Writer and Futurist

"Our technological powers increase, but the side effects and potential hazards also escalate."

"Technology feeds on itself. Technology makes more technology possible."

"Future shock: the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time."

"Parenthood remains the greatest single preserve of the amateur."

"The responsibility for change… lies with us. We must begin with ourselves, teaching ourselves not to close our minds prematurely to the novel, the surprising, the seemingly radical. This means fighting off the idea-assassins who rush forward to kill any new suggestion on grounds of its impracticality, while defending whatever now exists as practical, not matter how absurd, oppressive, or unworkable it may be. It means fighting for freedom of expression – the right of people to voice their ideas, even if heretical."

"We believe that the most basic of all changes in human social organization have been the result of three processes. Starting 8,000 to 10,000 years ago, agriculture was invented in the Middle East – probably by a woman. That’s the First Wave. Roughly 250 years ago, the Industrial Revolution triggered a Second Wave of change. Brute-force technologies amplified human and animal muscle power and gave rise to an urban, factory-centered way of life. Sometime after World War II, a gigantic Third Wave began transforming the planet, based on tools that amplify mind rather than muscle. The Third Wave is bigger, deeper and faster than the other two. This is the civilization of the computer, the satellite and Internet."

"“Future Shock”… [is] the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time."

"All social and political problems are interwoven – that energy, for example, affects economics, which in turn affects health, which in turn, affects education, work, family life, and a thousand other things. The attempt to deal with neatly defined problems in isolation from one another… creates only confusion and disaster."

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn."

"Change is the process by which the future invades our lives."

"The ultimate objective of social futurism [is] not merely the transcendence of technocracy and the substitution of more humane, more far-sighted, more democratic planning, but the subjection of the process of evolution itself to conscious human guidance. For this is the supreme instant, the turning point in history at which man either vanquishes the processes of change or vanishes, at which, from being the unconscious puppet of evolution he becomes either its victim or its master."

"We are beginning to realize that neither big nor small is beautiful, but the appropriate scale, and that the intelligent meshing of big and small is most beautiful of all."

"The illiterate of the future are not those that cannot read or write. They are those that cannot learn, unlearn, relearn."

"Knowledge, violence, and wealth, and the relationships among them, define power in society."

"Power is defined [as] the ability to make certain things happen, or to prevent certain things from happening."