Discussion topics

Using posts to train AI

Meta, Facebook and Instagram’s parent company plans on using public Instagram and Facebook posts to train AI from June 26. This includes posts, photos, and captions, but not private messages. The company will notify users in the UK and EU, making it possible for them to opt out by completing a form.

However, even if someone opts out, their data could still be used if they appear in other users' public posts. Meta emphasized that the only information that would be used is from posts not comments, for people over the age of 18. The main goal for this is to develop and improve AI research and product development.

How do you feel about Meta using public posts to train AI? Do Homework
Should users be more concerned about their data being used if they appear in someone else’s public post? Why or Why not? Do Homework
What are the potential benefits and drawbacks of AI advancements using public data? Do Homework
How might this practice affect users under 18, even if their data is excluded? Do Homework
Should there be stricter regulations on how companies like Meta use public data for AI training? Why or Why not? Do Homework

A run across Africa

Imagine the possibility of running across the whole continent of Africa! Well, Russell Cook, known as "Hardest Geezer," proved that this is very possible by running the entire length of Africa. Even though he completed his race, he faced many challenges which include an armed robbery, visa issues and injuries.

He was determined to complete this run because he had struggled with mental health, gambling, and drinking. By taking on this challenge, he was able to make a positive impact by raising almost $1 million for charity.

Cook started his journey in South Africa's southernmost point on April 22, 2023 and completed it in Tunisia on April 7, 2024. The journey took 352 days, it was 9,940 miles (16,000km) long and he ran through 16 countries. When he completed his race, all he really wanted was a strawberry daiquiri​ to celebrate his huge accomplishment!


Have you ever taken on a challenge similar to Cook's? If yes, discuss this with your teacher. If not, would you like to? Why or why not? Do Homework
What motivates you to keep doing something even if you face difficulties? Do Homework
The purpose of the run was to raise money for charity. If you were to do anything to raise money for a charity organisation, which organisation(s) would you choose, why? Do Homework
Cook wanted make a positive impact in other people's lives. If you got the chance, what would you do to make a positive impact in people's lives? Do Homework
To celebrate his accomplishment, Cook had a strawberry daiquiri. How do you usually celebrate after an huge accomplishment? Do Homework
How can people be encouraged to support charity organisations? Do Homework

Oceans heating up globally

Record ocean temperatures show that the seas are warming faster than expected, with significant impacts globally. Oceans absorb over 90% of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases, and since March 2023, daily global ocean surface temperatures have set new records. February 2024 saw a full year of 1.5℃ surface air temperature warming.

This unexpected warming is causing widespread damage. For example, in 2023, the water temperatures off the coast in Florida were warmer than a hot tub, resulting in massive coral bleaching. Other effects include deep sea de-oxygenation and increased rainfall.

Michael McPhaden of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) attributes the record heat to rising greenhouse gases and a major 2023 El Niño event. Other factors include the 2022 Tonga volcano eruption and a 2020 mandate reducing sulphur dioxide emissions from shipping, which has lessened heat-reflecting clouds.

Have you personally noticed any effects of global warming such as weather changes? Do Homework
How would an increase in weather patterns such as hurricanes and storms affect you? Do Homework
Would a rise in sea level affect an area that you are familiar with? How? Do Homework
What concerns do you have about any of the potential changes that could happen as a direct result of global warming? Do Homework

Boomerang employees

A "boomerang employee" is someone who leaves a company, often at a high level like a CEO, only to return to the same company later on in a similar leadership position. It's like throwing a boomerang: they leave, but they come back.

Some examples of boomerang CEOs include:

  • Steve Jobs: He co-founded Apple, left in 1985, and returned in 1997 to lead the company to unprecedented success.
  • Howard Schultz: The former CEO of Starbucks left in 2000 but returned in 2008 to help revitalize the company during a challenging time.
  • Louis Gerstner Jr.: He left IBM in 1993 but returned in 1997 as CEO, leading a significant turnaround of the company.
  • Michael Dell: He stepped down as CEO of Dell in 2004 but returned in 2007 to lead the company's transformation efforts.
Do you know any famous examples of a boomerang CEO? Who are they and have they been a success? Do Homework
Do you work with any boomerang employees? How's that going? If you don't, would you like to? Why or Why not? Do Homework
Do you believe in second chances? Explain your thinking. Do Homework
Do you prefer to take the easy, fast path? Or do you prefer a challenge? How come? Do Homework

Sci-fi doesn’t have to be dystopian

The article explores the idea that science fiction doesn't always have to portray dystopian futures. It highlights authors who are crafting narratives that offer hope and optimism, challenging the prevailing trend of bleak visions of the future. By examining works of science fiction that focus on utopian or more balanced depictions of society, the article suggests that these stories can inspire readers to imagine alternative futures and explore the possibilities of human potential.

The article mentions several examples of hopeful stories in science fiction:

  • "The Dispossessed" by Ursula K. Le Guin: This novel presents an anarchist society on the moon, where people strive for balance and equality, offering a vision of a more just and harmonious future.
  • "The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet" by Becky Chambers: This novel depicts a diverse crew traveling through space, focusing on themes of friendship, acceptance, and cooperation, offering a hopeful vision of humanity's future among the stars.
  • "The Left Hand of Darkness" by Ursula K. Le Guin: In this novel, the protagonist journeys to a planet where people can change genders, challenging traditional notions of identity and society, and presenting a hopeful exploration of cultural diversity and understanding.

These examples showcase science fiction narratives that emphasize themes of cooperation, diversity, and social progress, offering readers hopeful visions of the future.

How do hopeful narratives in science fiction contribute to broader discussions about societal values and aspirations? Do Homework
In what ways do authors use speculative fiction to explore utopian or alternative visions of the future? Do Homework
How does the portrayal of diverse characters and societies in science fiction reflect contemporary discussions about inclusivity and social justice? Do Homework
What role does the balance between hope and realism play in engaging readers with speculative fiction narratives? Do Homework
How might hopeful science fiction stories inspire real-world action or influence public perceptions of technological and social change? Do Homework

The geopolitics of AI chips

The article discusses how the production of AI chips could have significant geopolitical implications. These chips, which serve as the backbone of AI technology, are primarily manufactured in a few key countries like the United States and China. However, as AI becomes increasingly integral to various industries, other nations may seek to establish their own chip-making capabilities.

This shift could potentially reshape global power dynamics, as control over AI chip production becomes a crucial factor in determining influence and competitiveness on the world stage. In essence, the article highlights how the future of AI is closely intertwined with the geopolitics of chip manufacturing.

How do you think countries can avoid relying too much on a few suppliers for AI chips? Do Homework
What are some ways nations can work together to ensure fair access to AI technology? Do Homework
Why is it important for countries to consider the ethical implications of AI chip development? Do Homework

Northern Lights spectacle

Over the past week, the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, have been visible in unusual locations across Europe and North America. These celestial lights are often limited to northern most territories and high-latitude regions. However, a massive G5 level geomagnetic storm event in space made it possible for the lights to be seen farther south. The Southern Lights, similar to the Northern Lights, were also seen in New Zealand due to its location near the southern pole.

For many travellers, seeing the Northern Lights is often at the top of the bucket-list. So, they visit places such as Iceland, Sweden, Norway, and Alaska from different parts of the world. However, there is no guarantee of catching a glimpse of the magnificent lights, even during peak seasons. Fortunately, according to experts, 2024 is the best year to enjoy the unforgettable light show. 


Have you seen the Northern / Southern Lights? If yes, describe your experience. If not, would you like to? Do Homework
How might the increased visibility of the Northern Lights impact tourism in traditionally popular viewing locations like Iceland, Sweden, Norway, and Alaska? Do Homework
In your opinion, how does witnessing the Aurora Borealis impact individuals on a personal or emotional level and what makes it such a popular natural spectacle? Do Homework
Share one activity/event on your bucket-list with your teacher. Discuss why this activity/event is important to you. Do Homework
If you were to choose a country to visit from the ones mentioned in the article, which one would you choose? Why? Do Homework

Developing AI like raising kids

The article "Developing AI: Like Raising Kids?" draws parallels between nurturing artificial intelligence (AI) systems and raising children. It emphasizes the importance of early experiences, feedback, and the interplay between nature and nurture in both processes. Just as children learn from their environment, AI algorithms require diverse and representative data for robust development.

Feedback and reinforcement shape behavior in both children and AI, highlighting the need for careful guidance. Lastly, the article underscores the significance of ethical considerations in AI development, advocating for responsible stewardship to ensure positive societal outcomes. Through these comparisons, it illuminates the complexities of AI development and the need for thoughtful engagement with ethical and social implications.

In your opinion, how does viewing AI development as akin to raising kids change our approach to creating and implementing AI technologies? Do Homework
How do you think feedback loops in AI development compare to those in child-rearing, and which do you believe is more critical for ethical and effective outcomes? Do Homework
Do you believe AI developers should prioritize ethical considerations over technological advancements? Why or why not? Do Homework
How do you feel about comparing AI systems to children in terms of nurturing and development? Do you think it's a helpful analogy? Do Homework
In your view, what role should governments and regulatory bodies play in ensuring responsible AI development, and how can they effectively enforce ethical guidelines? Do Homework

Will A.I. become the new McKinsey?

The article explores the potential impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the consulting industry, particularly focusing on whether AI could replace traditional consulting firms like McKinsey & Company. It discusses the rise of AI-driven platforms and tools that offer data analysis, problem-solving, and decision-making capabilities comparable to those of human consultants.

While acknowledging the significant advancements in AI technology, the article also highlights the limitations and challenges AI faces in fully replacing human consultants. These include complexity of human interaction and the need for contextual understanding.

Additionally, it discusses how consulting firms like McKinsey are incorporating AI into their operations to enhance their services rather than viewing it as a threat. Overall, the article suggests that while AI will undoubtedly transform the consulting industry, it is unlikely to completely replace the role of human consultants in the foreseeable future.

How do you think the integration of AI into consulting firms like McKinsey will impact the overall quality of consulting services provided to clients? Do Homework
Will AI lead to more efficient and effective solutions, or could it potentially diminish the personalized and nuanced approach that human consultants offer? Do Homework
How can consulting firms strike a balance between leveraging AI for data-driven analysis and preserving the human touch necessary for understanding client needs, building relationships, and providing tailored solutions? Do Homework
As AI continues to advance, do you foresee a future where AI technologies could potentially replace human consultants entirely, or do you believe that there will always be a need for human expertise in consulting? Do Homework
What factors might influence the extent to which AI disrupts or transforms the consulting industry in the coming years? Do Homework
What other industries do you think are in a similar position to consulting when it comes to AI? Why? Do Homework

Apologising in Japan

Japanese people often apologize to maintain harmony, regardless of fault. This is seen as a way of improving the atmosphere and maintaining relationships, not an admission of guilt. In contrast, Westerners often seek to identify the cause of a problem first. This can be seen as making excuses in Japanese culture.

When working with the Japanese it's advised to apologize first, then propose a solution or workaround, and finally, discuss who was at fault. The person in the wrong also has to explain what steps they have taken to prevent a recurrence. 

Compare a typical Japanese apology with a typical Western one. Do Homework
Why might the Japanese approach of apologizing first, regardless of fault, be beneficial in a business context? Do Homework
Can adopting elements of another culture’s communication style be beneficial, and if so, how? Do Homework
Why is it important to understand different communication styles when doing business internationally? Do Homework
What can we do to improve communication with people from different cultures? Do Homework

Solo travel mistakes

Watch the short and discuss it with your teacher.


Have you ever travelled alone? Tell your teacher the story. Do Homework
What are the rules in the video? Do you agree with them? Do Homework
Do you prefer to travel solo (if you have)? Why? Do Homework
If you have not travelled solo, would you? Why or why not? Do Homework
What's your travel style? Adventures or relaxation? How come? Do Homework

ChatGPT is a blurry JPEG of the web

A blurry image of a keyboard

OpenAI’s chatbot offers paraphrases, whereas Google offers quotes. Which do we prefer?

The article explores the capabilities and limitations of ChatGPT, an AI language model developed by OpenAI, particularly in its ability to understand and generate human-like text. It discusses how ChatGPT is trained on vast amounts of text data from the internet, enabling it to mimic human conversation and provide contextually relevant responses.

However, the article also highlights the model's shortcomings, such as occasional inaccuracies, lack of understanding nuanced contexts, and potential biases inherited from the data it was trained on. Additionally, it delves into the ethical considerations surrounding AI language models like ChatGPT, including concerns about misinformation, manipulation, and privacy. Overall, the article provides a nuanced examination of ChatGPT's capabilities and the broader implications of AI language models for society.

What does the title of the article mean? Do Homework
How can society distinguish between genuine and AI-generated content to combat the spread of misinformation online? Do Homework
What ethical guidelines should be established to govern the use of AI language models in content creation and dissemination to prevent manipulation and maintain trust? Do Homework
In what ways can policymakers and technology companies address privacy concerns associated with the use of AI language models while still fostering innovation and advancement in the field? Do Homework

Food trends in 2024

Professional chef preparing food in the kitchen

Food experts predict that food trends will be shaped by a desire for authenticity, environmental protection, and exciting flavors. They also believe that global flavors will be a big trend, with chefs creating dishes that reflect their diverse backgrounds. Asian ingredients, like black sesame and ube, will become more popular as people will start to appreciate the unique qualities of different Asian cuisines.

Sustainability will be a key focus, with companies creating alternative chocolates that don’t rely on cocoa, which is leading to deforestation. Other companies will try to reduce their water usage by creating products like waterless plant milks. These trends show a move towards food and drink that is not only tasty, but also kind to our planet.

According to the article "...food trends will be shaped by a desire for authenticity, environmental protection, and exciting flavors". Do you agree? Do Homework
Do you think it's important for chefs to create dishes that reflect their diverse backgrounds? Why or Why not? Do Homework
Why is sustainable food becoming more popular? Do Homework
Are you seeing the trends mentioned in the article in your country or any country you have visited? Discuss this with your teacher. Do Homework
How can individuals and companies contribute to food sustainability? Do Homework

Energy use of AI

Plugging a light bulb into a socket

Artificial intelligence (AI) consumes a significant amount of energy, especially deep learning models, and in a few years it is expected that energy use will double. This energy consumption is due to the increasing demand for AI across various industries, which contributes to carbon emissions.

Efforts are being made to improve energy efficiency in AI, such as developing smaller models and optimizing algorithms. However, addressing the environmental impact of AI requires collaboration between tech companies, policymakers, and researchers to prioritize sustainability while advancing AI innovation.

Are you surprised that AI uses so much energy? Why or why not? Do Homework
How can we make AI more energy efficient? Do Homework
What will be the environmental impact of the energy used by AI? Do Homework
Who should fix this problem? Tech companies, governments or researchers? Why? Do Homework
Can AI be used to help the environment or reduce emissions? How? Do Homework

Hayao Miyazaki wins an award

Arrangement of cinema objects close-up

The Boy and the Heron won the Best Animated Film award. It beat Disney’s Elemental and Spider-Man Across the Spider-verse. The same film also won a Golden Globe. The film is about a boy who meets a talking heron during World War II, after his mother dies. The film is based on the life of Mr. Miyazaki, who also had to move because of the war.

In 2014, Mr. Miyazaki received a special Oscar for his storytelling. He said he was lucky to be able to make films with paper, pencil, and film. The Boy and the Heron took ten years to make because it was drawn by hand. Today most films are made electronically.

What is “The Boy and the Heron” about? Do Homework
Have you watched “The Boy and the Heron”? If yes, what do you think about it? If no, would you like to? Why or Why not? Do Homework
Mr. Miyazaki has made many films, which one is your favorite? Why? Do Homework
Do you know anything about the Japanese film making industry? Discuss this with your teacher. Do Homework
Films used to be made with paper, pencil, and film. How do you think we will be making movies in the future? Do Homework

Microsoft invests in Japan AI

Microsoft logo

Microsoft is planning to put a lot of money, about 2.9 billion dollars, into Japan to make their computer systems better. They want to improve their Artificial Intelligence (AI) and build more data centers. These data centers are like big buildings where lots of computers are kept and they store all kinds of information.

By making their AI better and having more data centers, Microsoft hopes to provide better services to people and companies in Japan. This could mean faster and more reliable internet services, as well as better ways to use computers and technology. Microsoft wants to help Japan become more advanced in technology, and they think this investment will make a big difference.

Why is Microsoft investing a lot of money in Japan's tech sector? Do Homework
How did Japan become famous for technology in the past? Do Homework
Do you think Japan is technologically advanced? Why or why not? Do Homework
How might Microsoft's investment help Japan's technology get better? Do Homework

Cherry blossoms

Family having some quality time together outdoors during hanami

Cherry blossoms are a sign of spring. There are festivals in many countries to celebrate the bloom of these flowers. The flowers don’t last long and fall off after a week. In Japan, people have picnics under the cherry blossom trees. This is called hanami.

The US also has this tradition because Japan gave them cherry trees in 1912. The flowers mean new beginnings. Now, people sell things that taste like cherry blossoms, such as ice-cream and cookies. They also watch the weather to see when the flowers will bloom.


Describe "hanami". Do Homework
Why is "hanami" important in Japan? Do Homework
What kind of food do you eat during "hanami"? Do Homework
Describe the taste of cherry blossoms to your teacher. Do Homework
What is your favorite food that tastes like cherry blossoms? Why do you like it? Do Homework

AI-powered consulting in Japan

Itochu and BCG are collaborating on AI-powered consulting in Japan. They aim to combine BCG's consulting expertise with Itochu's data and AI capabilities to offer innovative solutions to Japanese businesses.

The partnership reflects a growing trend of integrating AI into traditional consulting services, leveraging data analytics for strategic insights. This collaboration seeks to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in business decision-making processes, potentially transforming the consulting landscape in Japan.

How do you think combining BCG's consulting expertise with Itochu's data and AI capabilities could benefit Japanese businesses? Do Homework
Do you believe AI-powered consulting will completely replace traditional consulting methods in the future? Why or why not? Do Homework
The article claims that this venture will improve efficiency and reduce risks. Will it? How? What do you think? Do Homework
What potential challenges or risks do you see in integrating AI into consulting services, and how can businesses address them effectively? Do Homework

Interest rates raised in Japan

Stats concept with pie chart

The Bank of Japan (BOJ) raised its main interest rate from -0.1% to between 0% and 0.1%. In 2016, the BOJ made the rate less than zero to help Japan’s economy.

The decision to raise rates depended on big companies increasing their workers’ wages to deal with the higher cost of living. Recently, Japan’s biggest companies agreed to increase wages by 5.28%, the largest increase in over 30 years. Wages had not increased since the late 1990s as prices rose very slowly or even fell.

The BOJ said there won’t be more rate increases for now. With inflation slowing down, it’s likely that workers will ask for smaller wage increases next year.

What do you think about The Bank of Japan's decision? Do Homework
In your opinion, is 5.28% wage increase good enough for employees working in big companies? Do Homework
Would you say this is an accurate forecast, "With inflation slowing down, it’s likely that workers will ask for smaller wage increases next year."? Do Homework
Has the general response to this decision among the Japanese been positive or negative? Explain your answer. Do Homework
What is the potential impact of Japan's interest rate hike on other countries? Do Homework

Wage increase in Japan

Big companies in Japan are giving their workers the pay raises they asked for. Some companies are even giving more than what was asked. 

Suzuki, Toyota, and Honda, among others, agreed to give raises. Those in the retail and food service are also increasing wages. However, it's still not clear if small and midsize companies will follow suit.

Because wages were low, people were saving more and spending less. Now that many will be receiving a pay raise, it's expected that people will start spending more.

Why are companies giving raises now? Do Homework
How will these raises affect the economy? Do Homework
In your opinion, will small and midsize companies also give raises? Why or why not? Do Homework
Would you advise people to spend or save more when they get a pay raise? Why? Do Homework
If you could implement any changes in your economic policy, what would you change? Do Homework