Alvin Toffler, China, and Me 阿尔文·托夫勒，中国，与我
*Click for a version in Mandarin
Many of the times that I have spoken to audiences—from board rooms to 3-5, 000 people—I have pointedly said that Dr. Alvin Toffler was the futurist that most affected my thinking, and that with great honor, I stand on his shoulders looking into the 21st Century. I had the good fortune to meet him twice and of course have read all his books.
China has honored Dr. Toffler, as well. People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party, called him “one of the top 50 foreigners who have had the greatest influence on China in recent centuries.” The primary reason for this is Toffler’s book, “The Third Wave”. Toffler and his partner and co-author, his wife, Heidi, toured China in 1983 on their “The Third Wave” speaking tour. This helped “The Third Wave” to become the second-best-selling book in China at that time after “The Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping.”
When you think of the timing of this visit, it is clear that it was at the beginning of China opening up to the world economically in the mid-1980s. One could argue that the Tofflers’ visit and “The Third Wave” helped trigger the economic miracle that, 35 years later, is modern China. That is influence!
Reading Toffler’s books, from 1970’s “Future Shock” through his last book, 2006’s “Revolutionary Wealth, ” was easily one of the greatest ongoing influences in developing my thinking as a now-leading global futurist. Many people have associated me with Toffler, calling me “the new Toffler, ” “A 21st Century Toffler, ” and “the heir to Toffler, ” and saying that “with Toffler’s death Houle takes his place as the leading global futurist today”. Now, it must be said that while each of these comments thrills me deeply, I am totally humbled by them. One is never as good as one’s hero.
I have had the good fortune to have made three speaking trips to China. The first was in 2015 shortly after the Mandarin version of “Entering the Shift Age” had been published. I was honored to speak at Beijing University, at a major entrepreneurial economic summit put on by the City of Shanghai. My trip was well-covered by the Chinese media.
“The Third Wave” was, for me, Toffler’s most influential book. I can still remember reading it and seeing what the working landscape of the future might be. Toffler was right! Right about the Internet, small computers in every home, and distributed workplaces. Right about the “third wave of the information age.” He defined what the Information Age would be. I felt it my responsibility to define the next age, which I did, stating that starting around 2005, humanity had entered “The Shift Age”. I told the publisher of “Entering the Shift Age” that I wanted something on the book’s cover that tied me to Toffler. If you can’t read the Mandarin on the attached photo, above the title there is this: “The End of the Information Age and the New Era of Transformation.” The age I am credited for forecasting follows Toffler’s Information Age—The Third Wave.
“The Third Wave” may have been the most influential book of Toffler’s in China. That said, I would recommend that subsequent books of his, “Powershift, ” “War and Anti-War, ” and “Revolutionary Wealth, ” all be read by Chinese, Americans, and anyone in the world trying to figure out our collective present and future.
Alvin Toffler set the bar very high for any futurist who has come after him. I will always keep trying to get to his level and influence. He was the greatest!
By David Houle
Translated by Qinyan Liu
在我的许多次演讲中——无论是在会议室里还是对着3、5000人——我都明确地指出，阿 尔文·托夫勒博士是对我的思想影响最大的未来学家，能够站在他的肩膀上展望21世纪， 我非常荣幸。我有幸与他见过两次面，当然，也读过他的所有著作。
中国也对托夫勒博士进行过表彰。共产党的官媒《人民日报》称他是 “几个世纪以来对 中国影响最大的50位外国人之一”。这主要是因为托夫勒的著作《第三次浪潮》。托夫勒 和他的伴侣、合著者、他的妻子海蒂，于1983年在中国举行了“第三次浪潮”的巡回演 讲。这助力《第三次浪潮》成为当时中国仅次于《邓小平文选》的第二畅销书。
说到此次中国行的时间，显然，正值1980年代中期中国经济开放之端。可以说，塔夫勒夫 妇的访问和《第三次浪潮》助推了一个经济奇迹的诞生，也就是35年后的当代中国。这就 是影响力!
从1970年的《未来的冲击》到他的最后一本书，2006年的《革命性的财富》，阅读托夫勒 是对我作为一个目前的全球未来学家领军人的思维发展最重大且持续的影响之一。许多人 把我和托夫勒联系在一起，称我为“新托夫勒”、“21世纪的托夫勒”抑或“托夫勒的继 承人”，并说“随着托夫勒的去世，霍尔取代了他作为当今全球领先未来学家的位置”。 但我必须说，虽然这些评论都让我兴奋不已，但我也为之感到深深的谦卑。一个人永远不 可能像他的英雄那样优秀。
我很幸运能三次去到中国举行演讲。第一次是在2015年，在《进入转变时代》的中文版出 版后不久。我有幸在北京大学和上海市举办的大型创业经济峰会上发言。中国媒体对我的 行程进行了充分报道。
对我来说，《第三次浪潮》是托夫勒最具影响力的书。我仍然记得在这本书中看见了未来 可能出现的工作情景。托夫勒说对了!他说对了互联网、家家户户的小型计算机，以及分 散的工作场所;他说对了“信息时代的第三次浪潮”。他定义了“信息时代”的愿景，而 我则感到我有责任定义下一个时代。我做到了，我认为从2005年左右开始，人类已经进入 了“转变时代”。我告诉《进入转变时代》的出版商，我希望在书的封面上有一些东西能 把我和托夫勒联系起来。如果你不懂中文，在封面配图上、标题的上方，写着“信息时代 的结束，变革的新时代来临”。新时代的预测被归功于我，而这个时代紧随着托夫勒的 “信息时代”——第三次浪潮。
《第三次浪潮》可能是托夫勒在中国最有影响力的书。从另一方面来说，我建议中国人、 美国人以及世界上任何试图弄清我们这个群体的现在和未来的人，都应该阅读他的后续书 籍《权力转移》、《战争与反战争》和《革命的财富》。
David Houle is a futurist, thinker, and speaker, and has been called “the heir to [Alvin] Toffler.” He spent more than twenty years in media and entertainment (at NBC, CBS, and others), with two Emmys and an Academy Award nomination to his credit. He has published seven books, including his influential first book, 2007’s The Shift Age, and has delivered speeches to scientists at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. He writes the highly-regarded futurist blog, “Evolution Shift, ” and founded the global non-profit organization, This Spaceship Earth, to create “Crew Consciousness” to address climate change.
Twitter: @evolutionshift | Blog: www.evolutionshift.com | Non-profit: www.thisspaceshipearth.org