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A six-day work week in Greece

On July 1, 2024, Greece introduced a six-day workweek to reduce labour shortages and eradicate unpaid overtime. This law applies to industrial facilities and 24/7 services but it excludes tourism and food services.

While Greece sees this as a positive step, employee relations experts around Europe argue that the long working hours and inadequate rest will affect work-life balance and productivity. This decision is also quite a surprise because other European countries want to implement shorter workweeks.

AI or human-made?

Photographer Miles Astray submitted a human-made image "Flamingone" in an AI competition and won. Unfortunately when the organizers realized his photo was not AI generated, they disqualified him. Astray wanted to highlight the importance of questioning the authenticity of photos, videos and audios.

Following his disqualification, Astray had this to say, "I couldn’t live the life I’m living without technology, so I don’t demonise it, but I think its often a double-edged sword with the potential to do both good and harm.

 

Working in Finland

Finland is known as the world's happiest country. The country has a unique work culture which makes going to work enjoyable! Framery, a Finnish manufacturing company is one of the many companies that builds this work culture by making these five phrases a part of their daily work ethic:

  • "the person who asks questions will not stray away from the path"—this encourages open dialogue and respect for differing opinions,
  • "a crazy person does a lot of work; a smart person gets away with less"—emphasizes the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance,
  • "put the cat on the table"—employees are advised to talk openly and honestly about difficult or awkward issues in the company,

  • "whatever you leave behind, you will find in front of you"—issues must be addressed the moment they arise, and

"What if Trump?"—"Moshitora"

Moshitora, a Japanese word that had slipped into the background has re-emerged as Donald Trump returns to the campaign trail. The word moshitora which means "what if Trump", was first used during the 2016 election. It reflects Japan's concerns about the implications of a potential second Trump term for US-Japan relations. 

Businesses also see Trump as a risk because of the protectionist policies that were put in place during his first tenure. As Japan foresees the possibility of Trump becoming president again, therefore, it's making an effort to talk to people close to him to make sure the US makes decisions that have Asia's best interests at heart.

Ippei Mizuhara pleads guilty

The story that had taken many twists and turns since March finally came to an end as Ippei Mizuhara, Shohei Ohtani's former interpreter, pleaded guilty to bank and tax fraud. He admitted that he stole nearly $17 million from the baseball star to cover illegal gambling debts.

Mizuhara also confessed that he evaded tax of more than $1million in 2022. He is yet to be sentenced, but it's said that he is likely to spend about 30 years in prison for bank fraud, and additional time for tax fraud​.

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.

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!

 

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.

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.

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.