This week: Tipping in the age of Venmo, AI and capitalism, and the gift of experiences.
The New York Times
Casualties of the Cashless Society: Those Who Get Seasonal Tips
Tech — smartphones in particular — have changed the way we handle money. Sure, we can bank online, but now, between Apple and Android and Samsung Pay, Venmo, Zelle, and every other payment app (not to mention credit cards), there’s almost no need to carry cash anymore. But that hurts a very specific group of people: Those who rely on tips, like doormen, manicurists, and elevator operators, which is apparently an occupation that still exists as we head into 2018. Keep that in mind during the holiday season as you're showing gratitude to the people in your life!
Silicon Valley Is Turning Into Its Own Worst Fear
If Terminator, The Matrix, Ex Machina, and every other movie has taught us anything, machines will rise up to kill all humans. This fear, held by some of Silicon Valley’s brightest minds like Elon Musk, is realized in a thought exercise where an AI developed to pick strawberries wipes out humanity to make room for more strawberry fields. But Ted Chiang, author of the short story that would become Arrival, wonders if this says more about machines or people. In a capitalist society — especially startups in Silicon Valley — of course the biggest fear is something eliminating all competitors and destroying everything in the name of growth and efficiency, because that’s exactly what humans would love to do. Really makes you think, especially right before you spend time with your loved ones.
Do Experiences Make Better Presents? Not Necessarily
Buying presents for people is hard. Especially when there’s such a focus on giving experiences instead of things. Because that’s what millennials want, right? Maybe, maybe not. Over at The Billfold, Brit McGinnis talks the importance of knowing your audience. Some people want experiences, and that’s great! But some people also just want presents, and that’s cool too. It doesn't make them materialistic, and it's not any easier than buying someone an experience. And remember: Cash is a good substitute for either.