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:

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.

In perfect harmony

This is a “two birds with one stone” remedy to at least a couple of issues facing Japan today.

I haven’t heard the term “parasite singles” in the news recently, maybe because it’s rather insulting (here are a few more examples)?

Here are a few articles about young (and even older) adults who live with their parents:

Some related topics:

  • “I don’t” (from the Economist) — this is about how many Japanese people these days find it hard to marry and the effects on society and the economy

I kept thinking of this song when I was trying to decide a title for this post: the original Coke ad from 1971, the popularity of which led to this song which dropped the Coke reference, and the “Mad Men” version of the ad from 2012

Plan B

Yesterday I was listening to two university sophomores talk about their future. One said that she wanted to be involved in a job that helped children who are victims of abuse. The other said she wanted to marry someone who made a lot of money so she could stay home with her (future) kids. My response: “If you think that will make you happy and fulfilled, that’s great. But I hope you also start thinking about a Plan B in case it doesn’t work out the way you expect.”

This is a photo series of women who are engaged in work that may not be considered “women’s work” by many.

Sadie Samuels, lobster fisher

MIra Nakashima, designer and woodworker

Mindy Gabriel, firefighter

Mindy Gabriel, firefighter

The photographer wrote about his reasons for doing such this project:

In a sentence, what’s your message? 
Gender should not determine professional opportunities.”

“I was raised to believe that I could do whatever I wanted to when I grew up. I want pass down a similar message to my children and without caveats. I want to raise my children knowing that their dreams have no limits and that they have parents supporting them to dive into anything they feel passionate about.”

Some recent news articles about women in the workforce in Japan: