Sunday, December 27, 2015

Slouching Toward 2016...

The cyber revolution is aggressively changing skill sets all across the age-groups of suffering humanity. Toddlers are already giggling over electronic toys; babies will soon be texting MA-MA before they can utter the sounds.

At the other extreme octogenarians (no doubt) have been known to pass on in dramatic episodes: falling down dead in too-stressful efforts to try to make a smart-phone call a great-grandchild.

Now, in Sweden at any rate, even criminals with traditionally the highest skills—the counterfeiters—must rise to even higher levels of skill. Sweden is trying its best to make all cash transactions, and cash itself, disappear (New York Times, today). The German language—for those lucky to know it—provides an indication of how far counterfeiting has come. Counterfeiters are called Falschmünzler, literally “false coiners”; the word counterfeit by contrast has the obscure root of “imitate maker.” Yes. Once upon a time the counterfeiter had to know fancy metallurgy to make coins that passed for the real thing. With the coming of paper money—which is, after all, a mere token of confidence—counterfeiters became experts in paper-making and printing. But now, at least in Sweden, the counterfeiter must become a master of the app, the device, and even of the bit and byte. Wow! Progress is infinite.

The Times tells us that Swedish banks no longer issue cash. If you want to draw money from the bank, better have a little handheld what’s-it ready… Or should we actually believe that? Is this, instead, a counterfeit story, one of the early products of an electronic keyboard programmed to write articles without human intervention?

The next revolution here might be to hold on to cash—and coins too, my little ones. I’m not forgetting you.

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