Lecture :: Jeremy Rifkin


It was last year when I first met (not literally) Jeremy Rifkin from a quote in a book called '자기혁명'. You can find the post about the quote here.

Since then, I actually got quite curious who Jeremy Rifkin really was (I felt love with the quote because it was really, really beautiful). He, as I mentioned in the previous post, was a visionary who foresee the future in an accurate and in a very convincing manner. While wondering who this person was, I was able to discover that Jeremy Rifkin was holding a lecture in Korea. At the very beginning, I could not believe it. I was able to meet Jeremy Rifkin and listen him speak? I almost thought it was a joke. But it wasn't. I kinda freaked out.


Jeremy Rifkin

Jeremy Rifkin


People getting ready for the lecture.

People getting ready for the lecture.


At the entrance of the lecture hall, I was given few items before the lecture: a notebook and a translator (which I didn't use).


To my surprise, I actually ended up liking the design of the notebook that I received, due to its minimalistic design which I don't often see around here. Though the material of the book completely ruined the whole user experience as the minimalistic effect was destroyed by the plastic reflection of the light.



Now, it is almost ready and I patiently awaited his entry, wondering how will he enter. By surprise, he just entered like a normal person. I also liked how he jumped straight into his lecture (with very short introduction, telling us to stop taking pictures of him).


At very beginning, I was kind of lost where he was heading at. But as he kept elaborating his ideas, I started to understand what he was emphasizing in the lecture. It was very interesting to realise many of his theories matched up to what I have thought as well. 

As a visionary, he mentined three major things which we need to take into consider:

  1. Sustainable Energy
  2. Internet
  3. Transport 

And within this three major things, there were few elements he emphasized which were:

  • Big Data
  • Democratization
  • Climate Change

And I would like to elaborate about what Jeremy Rifkin said about 'Democratization'.

According to Jeremy Rifkin, businesses and Co-operates in the 20th century was all vertically integrated enterprises. The reason being was because enterprises had to find the most efficient way to cope with the beginning of rapid development of technological advancement, while providing highest profit by selling products to consumers. This structure was told to be enterprise models of 1st and 2nd Industrial era.

However as humanity enters the 21st century, huge - seriously huge - changes engulfs the whole Globe, forcing the Conglomerates to shift its vertically structured business models to shift, radically. If the business model of the 2nd industrial era allowed the conglomerates to have all the control of everything (from creation to the selling of a product), meaning to have all the power to control the market system, the business model of the 3rd industrial era forces shift in power towards each small and individual people. Never in human history where each individual people had so much power to control and change the world with such influence.

This obviously have forced the corporations to either to be destroyed or change their course of  going along with the flow instead of going back to old business model and being against it. This entrepreneurship of individualism shocks me. And the reason why I am this shocked is because this was the very first time where the power of dominance is no longer within the hands of authorities; the human species themselves has became the government of the world. This is indeed democratization of human civilization. 

Jeremy mentioned the ability of us (as individual entrepreneurs) will be able to extract renewable energy, for example solar energy, in a micro-level as we no longer will be needing electric factories to create the energy for us. We, ourselves, will become miniature factories producing all the energies we need to live, forcing the marginal costs of energy to almost zero.

DIY will be something that will again how business model has to force itself to change. 3D printing has allowed individual people to create whatever object they desire to be manufacture with the quality you expect to be produced in a factory. This suggests that we might not be needing factories creating goods anymore, as individual people will be able to create whatever they desire in their home. Again, all of these will probably happen with almost zero marginal costs as Jeremy Rifkin suggested the materials which are use to create with 3D printings are recycle materials and the software to use 3D printer will probably be open source.

Democratization, individualism, and shift in power

I am actually worried, yet excited at the same time. I could be worried because this will take us to the economic system, or the entire human race into somewhere we have never been before. Is it truely possible for everyone to have such power over authorities? What consequences and effect will this democratization bring? Will this new system able to be sustained? - since no system is perfect. We do not know. However it is true that we will be going to the place where we have never been before and I am excited to see how our lives and  the relationship of the world will change.

Another thing that I am afraid of is the decrease of human labor. It is quite obvious that the machines and droids will take over the occupations that human beings used to do. Of course, when we think about this, the future sounds very promsing; the fact that machine will do all the tedious, mundane and dangerous work is very encouraging - human beings won't be exposed to danger and it gives opportunity for each people to thrive and work which they love and have the most potential in. It will push each human beings to expand their creative potentials to maximum level.

However, at the same time the future sounds worrisome due to the fact that we have to consider the possibility whether all human beings will actually benefit from this. Though humans will be no longer exposed and have to do all the tedious work, that is not a guarantee of the fact that all of human beings will be able to live a better lifestyle. People will lose jobs as machine take over and as people suddenly lose their jobs, the obvious result to that will be decline in economic development.

In addition, there will be cost of using machines (although it will be relatively cheap) which will be paid to its owners. This suggests that there will be rapid increase in poverty gap between the rich and the poor as the rate which money earns more money is extremely fast. People won't be able to live without machines, doing all the hard work for us. Hence the demand for droids a d machine will be very very high, almost considered as a necessity. As a result it is quite obvious that machine and droid owners will enjoy an exponential increase in their profits. I think it is important for us to find a solution to which where the economical burden is minimized to all people while maintaining the advantages of efficiency that machine labor provides. 

Climate Change matters

Environment was another thing that Jeremy Rifkin emphasized alot during his lecture. He explained that climate change is one of the most dangerous thing which humanity should tackle in a very serious manner.

The reason behind this is that our planet depends and heavily effected by the water cycle. And climate change disrupts this water cycle of the Earth directly. Increase in global temperature forces more water in the planet to precipitate to the atmosphere. Jeremy mentioned if there is less water on the floor, more rapid the movement of the cycles will be. Hence we experienced hurricane Sandy in New York. 

Climate change is something that we seriously need to consider. I cannot agree more with Jeremy about this statement . Though we will be experiencing the benefits of renewable energy in thr future, we don't know when and I think we need to be able to prepare for the usage of renewable energy right now.

Future of Transport

Jeremy also mentioned a very interesting statement, saying that the future of transport will be very different from the past. If the generations of 60s to 70s values possession of automobiles as their primary concern for tranpsortation, the next generation values the service of 'mobility' as their primary concern. The hierarchy of importance shifts dramatically suggesting two possible outcome for what I think the future of transportation could end up: the biggest transportation services in the future will be public transport, and this public transport will be deeply integrated with the surrounding cities. In other words, the service transportation will be is itself a part of a factor which define as a city - transport and city is no longer two separate things, but one.


To wrap up, Jeremy Rifkin's lecture was inspirational experience. Although there were much more things thay he mentioned during his lecture, I was somehow amazed by how some of his theory almost identical to the theories that I thought by myself as well.  

I cannot wait to see how the future will transform into. The 3rd industrial era will bring the concept of democratization to its term literally, bringing power to change the world to each individual human beings, the amazing things that we, as human beings, can achieve, making the world a better and exciting place to live in. At the same time, I think we have to take this matter quite seriously. Democratization won't stop capitalism. Hence there will be free market and segregation, underscoring the people who are poor and rich.

How the future shapes? It really depends on us. How we deal and face problems and solve them in a mature and creative manner. The future depends on our hands and we seriously need to consider how we should take care of it.