Humans vs. AI

A Japanese insurance company replacing workers with AI was in the news a week or so ago:

“Japanese insurance firm replaces 34 staff with AI” (from BBC)

And then there’s the hotel in Kyushu (within the Huis Ten Bosch theme park) where 90% of the workers are robots:

These stories reminded me of one man’s quest to fight automated advertisement e-mails. I don’t recommend dealing with your frustrations the same way, but he sure is funny:

And new year’s debates

Three debate topics for the new year, connected to shopping and “stuff”:

  • Stores and shops should close on January 1st.
  • “Lucky bags” are a waste of money.
  • The “otoshidama” age limit should be 18.
  • “Osechi” is an old tradtion that should be abolished.

Here are a few articles that may help:


This is a place called Chillazy, in Hong Kong. You can go there and pay $6 for an hour of peace and quiet.

Read about the two young entrepreneurs who started the company, why they choose to put in hammocks instead of beds (to avoid a hospital atmosphere), and more.

“Paying To Be Lazy: Chillazy Startup” (from Youth Time Magazine)

I think we need at least one of these rooms on campus. Where should we put it? Should it be free? If not, how much would you be willing to pay per hour? What furniture and other things would you put in it? Should it be completely quiet or have some calming background music?

Silver linings

Refugee camps may seem to us to be some of the most dismal places on earth, but there may be a silver lining for some:

“Business tips from a refugee camp” (from 1843)

There are shops popping up all over the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. The camp is just (!) a day’s walk from the Daraa region of Syria.

The author of this article is a professor at the London School of Economics, and he visited the camp recently.

From bread to meat to coffee to colorful bicycles to haircuts to wedding dresses, you can find almost anything you want in the more than 1,400 shops in the camp area, talking to the refugees, the shop owners, and the NGO people in the area.

It’s an example of the most fundamental concept in economics: supply and demand.