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:

Universal design

I was in Center-Minami the other day to visit an acquaintance who uses a wheelchair. The area around the station is pretty accessible for people in wheelchairs, but it was hard to find a place to have some coffee in the late afternooon that had enough space for four people and a wheelchair.

This morning on the news, I heard a segment about a “barrier-free app” for smart phones. I wasn’t paying attention, so I’m not sure if this is what they were talking about, but it looks promising:

Bmaps: barrier-free information sharing

Here’s more information from the Nippon Foundation (from July)

And if you plan to do a little research on this topic in English, you’ll find more information if you also use the search terms “universal design” and “inclusive design” and “wheelchair accessible” than if you limit your search to “barrier-free” which is not used as much in English-speaking countries.

Human Google

The New York Public Library has a group of librarians who answer your questions. They receive 30,000 calls per year. Is it my imagination, or do most of them look really tired? Watch this short video to find out why they do it. And read more about it at CityLab.

In search of …

Today is Google’s 18th birthday. This is their Google Doodle for today. See other doodles here.

What in the world did we do before Google?

Do you use other search engines instead or in addition? Yahoo? Bing? DuckDuckGo? Any others?

Alphabet is #94 on the Fortune 500 list. What do you know about Google/Alphabet? Can you find any Japanese companies on the list? What companies on the list have you never heard of?