From “Computer-Based Services in Personal Transactions”: The challenge the computer poses for the future is to transmit information without paper. This challenge sparks speculation about a ‘controlless society’, a phrase that has captured the imagination of journalists and popularized a concept long before the economic, social and legal aspects have been resolved. Thomas J. Watson, Jr., of IBM wrote: “In banking alone, yesterday’s advances are only a vague prelude to tomorrow’s miracles. During our lifetime, we can see that electronic transactions virtually eliminate the need for cash. To withdraw or add to his balance, the customer in a store enters an identification into the terminal located there and punches out the transaction digits on the terminal’s keyboard. Immediately, the amount he withdraws will disappear from his account and enter another.
From “The Bottom Line on Checkless Banking”: Anyone who’s ever put money into a soda machine and found it doesn’t deliver the product knows that we humans struggle with machines that don’t work. When he received his bank statement, a friend noticed a mysterious $50 charge. He drove to the bank where he confronted the manager with his problem. The manager told him it was a ‘computer transaction’. The friend knew he hadn’t used the computer terminal for a transaction that day. Sadly, intimidated, the man dropped it and later explained, “You can’t argue with a computer.” Consumers are still skeptical about ATMs. Experience has shown that human nature does not change quickly. The benefits for banks and retailers are overshadowed by huge costs. Therefore, growth in this area will remain sluggish.
From “The Neverhood of Internet Commerce”: New technologies sometimes provide an illusion of advantage that only applies within a narrow economic framework. While we eagerly chase the savings in money and effort that a new tool seems to offer, we may be ignoring the wider societal costs that can ultimately mock our sense of wealth. Before shifting our purchases to internet sellers, we need to recognize a hidden price we may end up paying: the demise of traditional stores. A bookstore is primarily a meeting place for people who love books and reading. In these places, the purchase of a product is only part of the experience. Yes, we should use any internet resource to explore the market and make intelligent comparisons. But when it comes to ‘dollar votes’, we’d be better off spending the money closer to home, in a neighborhood where people actually live, rather than the never-ness of digital bits.