Jeremy Rifkin


Jeremy Rifkin

President of the Foundation on Economic Trends

A futurist of extraordinary vision, Jeremy Rifkin doesn’t just illuminate the complexities of global trends, he helps to mold them. An advisor to heads of state and government officials around the world, Rifkin speaks frequently to government, business, labor, and civic forums, giving audiences a new understanding of domestic and global economies, the evolving power of e-commerce and biotechnology, and the ever-changing needs of the work force.

Rifkin has served as an advisor to the government of France during its presidency of the European Union; to Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister Jose Socrates of Portugal, and Prime Minister Janez Janša of Slovenia; and he currently advises the European Commission, the European Parliament, and several EU heads of state.

He is the founder and Chairperson of the Third Industrial Revolution Global CEO Business Roundtable, and has been an influential authority on public policy within the United States. Rifkin is a senior lecturer at the Wharton School’s Executive Education Program at the University of Pennsylvania, where he instructs CEOs and senior management on transitioning their business operations into sustainable Third Industrial Revolution economies. From 1995-2010, he taught in the Advanced Management Program at Wharton.

Rifkin is the author of a number of bestselling books including The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism; The End of Work; The Biotech Century; The Age of Access ; The Hydrogen Economy; The European Dream; and The Empathic Civilization.

His monthly column on global issues appears in many of the world’s leading newspapers and magazines, from The Los Angeles Times to The Guardian, to Al-Ittihad in the U.A.E. He has been a frequent guest on television, including CNN’s Crossfire, Face the Nation, The Lehrer News Hour, 20/20, Larry King Live, Today, and Good Morning America.

Leading the Way to the Third Industrial Revolution

While oil, coal, and natural gas will continue to provide a substantial portion of the world’s and the European Union’s energy well into the 21st century, there is a growing consensus that we are entering a twilight period where the full costs of our fossil fuel addiction is beginning to act as a drag on the world economy. Looking to the future, every government will need to explore new energy paths and establish new economic models with the goal of achieving as close to zero carbon emissions as possible.

The Four Pillars of the Third Industrial Revolution:

The First Pillar: Renewable Energy

The Second Pillar: Buildings as Positive Power Plants

The Third Pillar: Hydrogen Storage

The Fourth Pillar: Smartgrids and Plug-in Vehicles

The Age of Access

A fundamental change is occurring in the nature of commerce, although, as yet, it has gone largely undetected and unexamined by the media. The new information in telecommunications technologies, e-commerce and globalization are making possible a new economic era as different from market capitalism as the latter is dissimilar from mercantilism. In the new century, markets are slowly giving way to network ways of conducting business, with profound implications for the future of society. By the mid decades of the 21st century, markets, the hallmark of conventional capitalism, will have largely disappeared, replaced by a new kind of economic system based on network relationships, 24/7 contractual arrangements, and access rights.

The Biotech Century

After more than forty years of running on parallel tracks, the information and life sciences are beginning to fuse into a single powerful technological and economic force that is laying the foundation for the Biotech Century. The computer is increasingly being used to decipher, manage and organize the vast genetic information that is the raw resource of the new global economy. Already, transnational corporations are creating giant life-science complexes from which to fashion a bio-industrial world.

Our way of life is likely to be more fundamentally transformed in the next few decades than in the previous 1,000 years. Food and fiber will likely be grown indoors in giant bacteria baths, partially eliminating the farmer and the soil for the first time in history. Animal and human cloning could be commonplace, with “replication” increasingly replacing “reproduction.” Millions of people could obtain a detailed genetic readout of themselves, allowing them to gaze into their own biological future and predict and plan their lives in ways never before possible. Parents may choose to have their children conceived in test-tubes and gestated in artificial wombs outside the human body. The biotech revolution will force each of us to put a mirror to our most deeply held values, making us ponder the ultimate question of the purpose and meaning of existence.

The End of Work

We are entering a new phase in history – one characterized by the steady and inevitable decline of jobs. Many jobs are never coming back. Blue collar workers, secretaries, receptionists, clerical workers, sales clerks, bank tellers, telephone operators, librarians, wholesalers, and middle managers are just a few of the many occupations destined for virtual extinction. We need to to prepare ourselves and our institutions for a world that is phasing out mass employment in the production and marketing of goods and services. Redefining the role of the individual in a near workerless society is likely to be the most pressing issue in the decades to come.

We need to move beyond the delusion of retraining for nonexistent jobs and begin to ponder the unthinkable – to prepare ourselves and our institutions for a world that is phasing out mass employment in the production and marketing of goods and services. Redefining the role of the individual in a near workerless society is likely to be the most pressing issue in the decades to come.

The European Dream

The European Union is emerging as a new kind of super power. With 450 million inhabitants spanning twenty-five member states, the EU now rivals the United States in raw economic power.

For more than two centuries the world has looked to the American Dream for inspiration and guidance. Now, a newly emerging European Dream is beginning to eclipse the American vision, becoming a new beacon of light in a troubled world. The European Dream represents a new chapter in world history. It is the first truly global vision befitting a globalizing economy. Mr. Rifkin will explore the economic, political, social, and cultural aspects of the fledgling European Dream and its implications for the business community and society.

The Hydrogen Economy

In his presentation on “The Hydrogen Economy,” best-selling author Jeremy Rifkin takes us on an eye-opening journey into the next great commercial era in history. He envisions the dawn of a new economy powered by hydrogen that will fundamentally change the nature of our market, political and social institutions, just as coal and steam power did at the beginning of the industrial age.

Hydrogen has the potential to end the world’s reliance on imported oil and help diffuse the dangerous geopolitical game being played out between Muslim militants and Western nations. It will dramatically cut down on carbon dioxide emissions and mitigate the effects of global warming. And because hydrogen is so plentiful and exists everywhere on earth, every human being could be “empowered,” making it the first truly democratic energy regime in history.

The Hi-tech Revolutions of the 21st Century

Harnessing the scientific and technological fields of biotechnology, nanotechnology, advanced IT, and cognitive science in ways that advance the process of globalization

Living in a Three Sector World

Creating new partnerships between the global business community, civil society, and governments to create a sustainable approach to globalization

Deep Globalization

Deepening and expanding the global economy by bringing the remaining 60% of the human race into the 21st century marketplace.

Educating Youth for a Global Era

Introducing service learning and experiential education into schools and colleges to prepare youth for working and living in a diverse, multicultural world.