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Mauro Guillen is a professor of international management at the Wharton School and the author of “2030: How the Biggest Trends Today will Collide and Shape the Future of Everything,” from which this essay is adapted.
There’s a growing sense of urgency when it comes to ensuring that stimulus checks and election ballots reach their recipients on a timely basis. The economic recovery and the future of our democracy hinges on that. Yet, we’re using a technology invented by the ancient Egyptians more than 4,000 years ago, later perfected by the Chou dynasty in China and by Cyrus, the emperor of Persia. Organizing a modern postal system was one of the key decisions made by the Second Continental Congress in 1775. In the digital age, however, does it make sense to mail checks and ballots as if they were tangible products like medicines or shoes?
The main advantage of postal systems is that they can potentially reach the entire population. By contrast, not everyone has a smartphone or a reliable Wi-Fi connection, or feels confident about using them. Still, the last few months have amply demonstrated that the American financial and election infrastructures are not up to speed. …
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