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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 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.

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. 

 

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.

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.

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. 

ChatGPT is a blurry JPEG of the web

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.

Food trends in 2024

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.

Energy use of AI

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.

Microsoft invests in Japan AI

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.

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.

Interest rates raised in Japan

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.

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.

Japan's economy remains weak

Kobayashi Shinichiro from Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting thinks Japan's economy is still not doing well. People are trying to spend less money because prices are going up.

Kobayashi says, "For the economy to get better, people need to spend more money. For that to happen, companies need to pay their workers more. The results of the wage talks will decide a lot about how the economy will be in the future."

These talks ended recently. Before the talks, Kobayashi also said if companies pay more, prices might increase, causing more inflation. This could then change how the central bank manages money.

Manners around the world

It's important to treat people well. But how you do that can change from culture to culture. What's polite in one place might be rude in another. For instance, giving hugs is okay in America but not in China.

This infographic will help you learn about manners around the world so you can be polite in other cultures. Remember, even in the same country, manners can vary between places and people. So, it's a good idea to do some research before you travel or work with people from other countries. Otherwise, you might unintentionally be rude.

The English Farm - Global manners article

When you can't stop buying books

Reading books is a popular hobby as you can easily while away time or just fall asleep reading one. However, it's very easy to get into the habit of buying books you don't end up reading. Interesting enough, there's a term for such a habit: tsundoku. Tsundoku is a Japanese term for people who buy a lot of books they never get around to reading. 

The Japanese word doku means "reading", and it comes from tsumu which means "to pile up". So, tsundoku refers to the practice of piling up reading material.

Quite similarly, the term Bibliomania came into the picture when Thomas Frognall Dibdin's wrote a book with the very same title. Bibliomania comes from the Greek biblio, which refers to books, and mania, "madness".

Male artists: Gustave Caillebotte

Gustave Caillebotte (1848–1894) was part of the French Impressionist art movement, the first school of art to break away from classical painting. Impressionism focuses on the light and colors of a particular moment in time. Because artists wanted to capture a brief moment and didn't have cameras yet, they needed to paint quickly. So they used quick, flat strokes without precise detail.

They also used colors in new ways. The best example is that shadows aren't just the object's color with gray or brown mixed in. Instead, the painters added strokes of the complementary color of the object (e.g., strokes of red in the shadow of something green). This makes the shadows come alive.

Race, ethnicity, and nationality

The words race, ethnicity and nationality are often misunderstood or even used interchangeably. They mean very different things, however.

Race refers to physical features, ethnicity points to cultural background, and nationality is all about the country you are from. In countries like Japan, the three things are closely linked. But in a place like the U.S., where people come from many different places and backgrounds, they are completely separate.

Let's look at how I fit into them.

Race

I have light-colored skin, which puts me in the Caucasian category, or White. The concept of race, however, based on the belief that physical appearance is related to a person's skills and character, has no scientific evidence. Studies show that there's no significant genetic difference between anyone in the world.

Pet your stress away

Life can be stressful. The list of responsibilities seems endless as work, children, bills and so many other things demand our constant attention. As a result, it's very easy to get lost in the jungle of a long to-do-list and end up burning out. Fortunately, studies show that pets are a good source of comfort and stress relief. 

According to Jenna Stregowski, an expert in the field, pets can improve one's mood, reduce blood pressure and provide social support, among other benefits. For those who don't really like to exercise or just need some motivation, having a pet will give you a reason to exercise. Dogs, for example, have to walk regularly. This means dog owners can exercise while walking their pets, thereby promoting stress management.