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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.

Men artists: Naoki Onogawa

Tokyo-based artist Naoki Onogawa folds hundreds of tiny cranes (no bigger than a centimeter each) by hand, then attaches them to branching wire forms. The results look like bonsai trees—bonsai trees with birds for leaves.

Onogawa started making the sculptures after visiting the site of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. He felt terrified by our powerlessness over nature when he saw 1,000 paper cranes at the site of a ruined school building. Amazingly, he also felt "empowered by the power of life ... that shined so brightly in the aftermath" of the disaster. This inspired him to create his own art with origami cranes.

A Korean Disney princess

Julian Riew is a Korean-American singer and songwriter, and she studies theater at Harvard. Like many children, she was influenced by Disney princesses while growing up.

In recent years, Disney has made conscious efforts to become more inclusive. Racial and ethnic representation have gained presence in their movies lately. However, Julia felt no Disney princess looked like her so she set herself up for a challenge: to create a Disney-inspired Korean princess.

Watch her interview about her musical featuring Korean-American heritage and have a discussion with your teacher: https://www.youtube.com/embed/QpaSVUKQlXg

Visuals: Alcohol by country

Different cultures have different relationships with alcohol. For instance, Italians tend to drink a lot of wine but have a very low level of alcoholism, as they usually drink a couple of glasses with lunch and dinner. However, Russians are known for drinking copious amounts of vodka, and nearly 15% of deaths in Russia are related to alcohol consumption.

In the East, South Koreans are known for signing business deals in bars and then drinking with each other under the table, while Vietnamese love their Bia Hoi (beer halls), where they spend most of their evenings drinking beer after beer with their friends.

Changing the role of the police

As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to advocate for change, one of the many calls has been to redefine the role of the police in the U.S. Excessive use of force by officers has sparked criticism, leading to calls for alternative methods. Several proposals have started to emerge and be implemented in response.

Most of these alternatives are focused on ways to restructure public safety by reducing the scope of situations in which the police are automatically in charge. One suggestion is to train specialized nonviolent officers to handle nonviolent issues, such as conflicts on the road. Unarmed traffic police officers could receive conflict resolution training to address these situations. By emphasizing peaceful resolutions, encounters can be de-escalated.

Visuals: Obesity around the world

Obesity is a growing problem around the world.

Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of over 30. BMI is used to determine whether you are in a healthy weight range for your height. For instance, a person who is 180cm (5ft 11in) and 97kg (213lb) has a BMI of 29.7. 

The rate of obesity varies greatly around the world. Please have a look at the map below and discuss what you see with your teacher.

AI's impact on the movie industry

The film industry is grappling with concerns about the future in light of the rapid advancements of AI technology. When questioned about these potential effects, ChatGPT emphasizes how AI can assist humans, making tasks like scriptwriting, special effects, and audience analysis faster and more effective. It highlights that AI is a tool without any sinister plans to take over the world.

Conversely, the perspectives of human interviewees paint a somewhat gloomier picture of the future. Their biggest fear is that their creative work will soon be replaced and go unrecognized. The ability to synthesize voices and digitally alter faces through visual effects is already a reality. In fact, this technology was utilized to de-age Harrison Ford in the latest Indiana Jones movie, and AI has replicated James Earl Jones' iconic Darth Vader voice for the upcoming Star Wars series.

Do you know how to rest?

Our society has taught people to always work hard. People are learning how to be more productive, but they also have the idea that they should always be busy. These people think "busy" and "productive" are the same thing. When these people finally rest, they feel bad. They think they are lazy. They might even work until they break down from tiredness.

American psychotherapist Sarah McLaughlin says 70% of visits to the doctor are because of stress-related issues. She suggests we start taking care of ourselves as much as we try to complete tasks. She says that we need to think more realistically about ourselves, “If this task does not get done today, it does not mean I have failed. It just means that I will get to it tomorrow.” Here are some pieces of advice from two psychotherapists, McLaughlin and Pantha Saidipour, on how to forget about work before resting:

Women called cows home

For centuries, women in Sweden called their cows home with a sound called kulning. Now, kulning has been embraced by many, including universities as a form of art. But from medieval times until the mid-20th century, the sound could be heard every summer, ringing across the mountains. Reaching up to 125 decibels, kulning can be heard over 5 km (1 mi) away. Since cattle tend to wander off, they needed to be able to hear the herdswomen calling them.

It was traditionally women who went up the mountains with the herd in the summer. They each lived in a small settlement, tending the animals. They milked the cows, made cheese and spent hours doing all the rest, like cooking, knitting, mending, making brooms, etc. It was hard work, but the women also had a lot of freedom without men around. They could do whatever they wanted up there.

Cherry blossom season

Cherry blossom season is known for attracting tourists to any city that has these ornamental cherry trees. More than 1.5 million people visit Washington, D.C each year for its National Cherry Blossom Festival, and Japan also experiences an influx of millions of tourists when the trees begin to bloom in March.

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