Rich countries are racing to dematerialise payments. They need to do more to prepare for the side-effects.
For the past 3,000 years, when people thought of money they thought of cash. Over the past decade, however, digital payments have taken off— tapping your plastic on a terminal or swiping a smartphone has become normal. Now this revolution is about to turn cash into an endangered species in some rich economies. That will make the economy more efficient—but it also causes new problems that could hold back the transition(转型).
Countries are removing cash at varying speeds. In Sweden the number of retail cash transaction per person has fallen by 80% in the past ten years. America is perhaps a decade behind. Outside the rich world, cash is still king. But even there its leading role is being challenged. In China digital payments rose from 4% of all payments in 2012 to 34% in 2017.
Cash is dying out because of two forces. One is demand— younger consumers want payment systems that plug easily into their digital lives. But equally important is that suppliers such as banks and tech firms (in developed markets) and telecoms companies (in emerging ones) are developing fast, easy-to-use payment technologies from which they can pull data and pocket fees. There is a high cost to running the infrastructure behind the cash economy—ATMs, vans carrying notes, tellers who accept coins. Most financial firms are keen to abandon it, or discourage old-fashioned customers with heavy fees.
In the main, the prospect of a cashless economy is excellent news. Cash is inefficient. When payments dematerialise, people and shops are less open to theft. It also creates a credit history, helping consumers borrow.
Yet set against these benefits are a couple of worries. Electronic payment systems may risk technical failures, power failure and cyber-attacks. In a cashless economy the poor, the elderly and country folk may be left behind. And a digital system could let governments watch over people's shopping habits and private multinationals exploit their personal data.
On the morning of September 7th, 19- year- old Ryan Harris and 40-year-old Stonie Huffman, two Sitka, Alaska residents, took off on their 28-foot boat in search of fish. Two miles into the ocean, their boat began to have some problems. They managed to fix the problems, but decided to head back to shore anyway. However, before they could call for help or grab a life jacket, an eight-foot wave slammed hard against their boat and overturned it, throwing both men into the cold Alaskan waters.
Stranded, they began to look around to see what they could grab onto and saw a couple of the empty fishing boxes from the boat, floating around. Ryan managed to climb inside one. Stonie, however, was not as lucky and managed to only grab onto the lid of the box. Soon, they both started drifting apart.
While Ryan continued to bob up and down in the box, the waves started carrying Stonie away. But as luck would have it, he caught sight of one of the life suits from their boat floating in the ocean and managed to grab it. Though putting it on and hanging onto the lid at the same time was not an easy task, Stonie managed it and then began his long swim back to shore. He ended up on a deserted patch of land about 25 miles northwest of Sitka, where he had to wait until Saturday morning almost 24 hours after the fishing trip began, for rescuers to find him. Meanwhile, 19-year-old Ryan continued to drift around the ocean trying to stay alive and hoping someone would find him. The brave teenager repeated himself over and over again, “I'm Ryan Hunter Harris and I'm not going to die here.” He was sure he would be rescued.
Two hours after his friend was rescued and able to guide the Coast Guard and, 26 hours after the adventure began, Ryan was finally found and brought back to shore. What was amazing was that besides a few scratches, the youngster was in perfect health. Will he ever venture out on a fishing trip again? Only time will tell!
Mid-afternoon on a particularly busy Tuesday, I took leave of my desk at work and walked into a local Starbucks, only to find a space where neither my clients (客户) nor my children would ask me to do something.
Inside, I ran into Kate, a co-worker of mine. The topic of parenthood came up. I complained about how packed my schedule was. From the minute I woke up to the minute I fell asleep, I was constantly in demand and always had someone knocking at the door. But a bit of sadness seemed to come over Kate's face.
"Well, my daughter's in San Francisco and she doesn't seem to need me at all these days." Kate said. It was in that moment that I realized although I might often feel in high demand, there will come a day when I'll actually miss that same stress I now complain about.
And as our conversation continued, it turned to our children's younger years, with Kate smiling proudly, thinking of the little boy and girl she raised who are now a man and a woman. But I noticed her smile was marked with regret. She explained that she often wondered about what she could have done differently when her children were in their earlier years.
This got me thinking Is regret an unfortunate footnote (注脚) to parenthood? With that in mind, I asked six older parents one question: What is your biggest regret from your early days as a parent?
It turned out that all of them thought they could have done it better. But, each of them also has a strong, healthy relationship with their kids. Whatever regrets their parents might have had about their upbringing, one thing is clear—it didn't affect them in a meaningful way.
The bottom line is, we all feel like we could be doing this parenting thing better, And quite clearly, years later, we're still going to look back and wish we tried things differently. But the past can't be changed, and neither should it.
We have recently heard some interesting ways that 5G wireless technology might change our lives in the future. One project in Britain is testing this superfast technology, but not on humans. Instead, the experiment involves an unlikely group of Internet users—cows. The system connects the animals to 5G in an effort to automate the milking process.
The project was developed by American technology company Cisco Systems. It is part of a Cisco-led program called 5G Rural First. Cisco says the program seeks to explore the future of 5G connectivity in rural communities around the world. Rural areas are expected to be the last to receive 5G service.
Testing areas were set up on farms in three rural areas of England. The cows are equipped with 5G-connected devices that link up to a robotic milking system. The system uses sensors and machine learning to fully automate the process, System designers say the technology takes over after a cow feels ready to be milked and walks toward an automatic gate. The device is designed to recognize each individual cow. It then positions equipment to the right body position for milking. During the process, machines release food for the cow as a reward.
One of the test areas is in the town of Shepton Mallet, in southwest England. There about 50 of the farm's 180 cows are fitted with 5G smart collars and health-observing ear sensors. Project officials say the devices do not harm the cows and the sensors permit farmers to immediately identify any problem or health concerns.
Other technology tools powering the 5G smart farms include automated brushes that work automatically when the cow rubs up against them. Sensors also control the amount of light to the cows' living areas depending on the weather. And, an automatic feeding system makes sure the animals always get enough to eat.
Nick Chrissos works on the project for Cisco. He said the system could connect every cow and every other animal on the whole farm. "That's what 5G can do for farming—really release the power that we have within this farm, everywhere around the United Kingdom, and everywhere around the world."
Food serves as a form of communication in two fundamental ways. Sharing bread or other foods is a common human tradition that can promote unity and trust. Food can also have a specific meaning, and play a significant role in a family or culture's celebrations or traditions. The foods we eat—and when and how we eat them—are often unique to a particular culture or may even differ between rural (农村的) and urban areas within one country.
Sharing bread, whether during a special occasion (时刻) or at the family dinner table, is a common symbol of togetherness. Many cultures also celebrate birthdays and marriages with cakes that are cut and shared among the guests. Early forms of cake were simply a kind of bread, so this tradition hits its roots in the custom of sharing bread.
Food also plays an important role in many New Year celebrations. In the southern United States, pieces of corn bread represent blocks of gold for prosperity (兴旺) in the New Year. In Greece, people share a special cake called vasilopita. A coin is put into the cake, which signifies (预示) success in the New Year for the person who receives it.
Many cultures have ceremonies to celebrate the birth of a child, and food can play a significant role. In China, when a baby is one month old, families name and welcome their child in a celebration that includes giving red-colored eggs to guests. In many cultures, round foods such as grapes, bread, and moon cakes are eaten at welcome celebrations to represent family unity.
Nutrition is necessary for life, so it is not surprising that food is such an important part of different cultures around the world.
There are an extremely large number of ants worldwide. Each individual (个体的) ant hardly weigh anything, but put together they weigh roughly the same as all of mankind. They also live nearly everywhere, except on frozen mountain tops and around the poles. For animals their size, ants have been astonishingly successful, largely due to their wonderful social behavior.
In colonies (群体) that range in size from a few hundred to tens of millions, they organize their lives with a clear division of labor. Even more amazing is how they achieve this level of organization. Where we use sound and sight to communicate, ants depend primarily on pheromone (外激素), chemicals sent out by individuals and smelled or tasted by fellow members of their colony. When an ant finds food, it produces a pheromone that will lead others straight to where the food is. When an individual ant comes under attack or is dying, it sends out an alarm pheromone to warn the colony to prepare for a conflict as a defense unit.
In fact, when it comes to the art of war, ants have no equal. They are completely fearless and will readily take on a creature much larger than themselves, attacking in large groups and overcoming their target. Such is their devotion to the common good of the colony that not only soldier ants but also worker ants will sacrifice their lives to help defeat an enemy.
Behaving in this selfless and devoted manner, these little creatures have survived on Earth, for more than 140 million years, far longer than dinosaurs. Because they think as one, they have a collective (集体的) intelligence greater than you would expect from its individual parts.