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When I was 14, my dad gave me a copy of Alvin Toffler’s book The Third Wave
It blew my fucking mind.
I then read its predecessor Future Shock, which was good, but since my mind was already blown, it was anticlimactic.
If you don’t know the arc of Toffler’s waves, they go as follows:
- The First Wave: agricultural society
- The Second Wave: industrial society
- The Third Wave: post-industrial society
Future Shock was written in 1970 and The Third Wave was written in 1980. While the idea of post-industrial society seems obvious in hindsight, in 1980 it was a completely new idea.
Ever since then I’ve been wondering what the next wave would be. While Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity Is Near is probably the book I’ve read that stimulated me the way closest to how The Third Wave did when I was 14, at some point I just felt hollow and disappointed when I read the latest futurist manifesto. Instead, I ventured further into the future with the science fiction that I have always read on a regular basis and used it as my stimuli.
Recently, a bunch of smart and famous tech entrepreneurs have been talking about AI and the impact of AI on civilization. I’ve read a few of the books that get tossed around, like Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence, and a bunch of the articles that people have written. But none have spoken to me, or blown my mind the way Toffler did 35 years ago.
I’m on a search for the Third Wave of this generation. Any ideas for me?
This story originally appeared on Brad Feld. Copyright 2015
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