Repeated conversations — #90
When things are not as they seem at first sight.
This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about repeated conversations.
At first, I thought it indicated boredom — or a poor connection. Maybe every conversation worth having was already explored?
But I’m starting to believe that repeating specific conversations offers a sanctuary of stability in a world that constantly changes and evolves. Repeated conversations ground us in shared experiences and define our connections. There is reassurance in predictability.
Also, there is space for growth and discovery in repeated conversations. We can observe how our perspectives shift and evolve with each retelling. While the contours of our thoughts may remain the same, the nuances bring new insights, enriching our understanding of ourselves and each other. I find comfort in that the relevance of some conversations exceeds time and circumstance.
So, let’s embrace the beauty of revisiting the same conversations, for within them lies friendship, shared memories, and the gentle reminder that some things, no matter how repetitive, bring us closer together.
Enjoy the rest of the newsletter.
PS. You probably won’t get a newsletter for Ascension Day next week, but I’m still deciding.
Generative AI tools can save office workers one month per year in improved productivity
BUSINESS / TECHNOLOGY
Employees at companies adopting generative AI tools are 90% more likely to report higher productivity levels, according to a global survey of over 18,000 desk workers published by the company Slack. Additionally, automating routine tasks was highlighted as a productivity booster by 77% of respondents, who believed it could save valuable time. The study also indicated that current automation users estimate saving an average of 3.6 hours per week, equating to approximately one working month per year.
The report emphasized the growing interest among employees in using generative AI tools and task automation. It urged companies to rethink the employee experience by embracing new ways of working, such as flexibility, automation, AI, and collaboration tools, to drive productivity and success.
However, while employees show increasing acceptance of generative AI, the report highlighted that some companies are falling behind in meeting this demand. The study revealed that 60% of respondents indicated their companies have not yet incorporated any AI tools for productivity support, and 43% reported a lack of work process automation. The report called attention to the untapped potential of automation, enabling employees to focus on more meaningful and impactful work.
According to recent insights from Gartner, the business appetite for generative AI tools is growing, driven by the potential benefits they offer organizations. The research highlighted that 45% of business leaders have increased their AI investments in response to the publicity surrounding ChatGPT and its potential advantages. Furthermore, 70% of executives reported being in the investigation and exploration stage of implementing generative AI, with 19% planning to integrate such tools into their organizational processes.
The United States sold weapons to over half the world’s autocratic regimes in 2022
Despite its claims of supporting global democracy, the Biden administration has been involved in selling weapons to authoritarian countries. In 2022, the United States sold weapons to at least 57% of the world’s autocratic regimes. The US has been the largest arms dealer since the end of the Cold War, accounting for approximately 40% of global arms exports. These sales are facilitated through foreign military sales and direct commercial sales, both of which require government approval.
The categorization of countries as democracies or autocracies is based on the Regimes of the World system, which examines the presence of multiparty elections and political freedoms. Of the 84 countries classified as autocracies in 2022, the US sold weapons to 48. However, the accuracy of tracking US weapons sales is restricted by factors such as undisclosed recipients in State Department reports. Other indices, such as Freedom House’s Freedom in the World report, yield similar results, with the US selling weapons to 58% of non-electoral democracies.
These findings contradict President Biden’s rhetoric of supporting peace and security through alliances with democratic countries while opposing autocracies. The Biden administration’s approach to weapons sales appears to be “business-as-usual”, similar to the previous Trump administration. Under Biden, arms sales reached $206 billion in his first full fiscal year, surpassing the last high under Trump. The increase in sales cannot be solely attributed to aid provided to Ukraine in response to Russia’s invasion, as a significant portion of the assistance was in the form of grants rather than sales.
While Biden initially indicated a policy based on strategic and human rights considerations, he approved arms sales to countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, contradicting his earlier stance. These recent figures highlight the continuity between Republican and Democratic administrations regarding arms sales, suggesting that economic interests and corporate considerations continue to play a significant role in US arms trade policies.
Child marriage has declined globally, but the progress is insufficient
Child marriage rates are declining globally, but not at a sufficient pace to eliminate the practice by 2030, warns a report by Unicef. Over the past decade, child marriages have dropped from 23% to 19%. However, over 12 million girls under 18 are still being married yearly, requiring approximately 300 more years to completely eliminate child marriage. Poverty, limited opportunities, gender inequality, stereotypes, weak laws, and fear of pregnancy outside of marriage are contributing factors.
The report highlights the impact of climate crises, conflicts, and natural disasters, which increase the risks faced by girls, interrupt their education, and add financial stress to households. In difficult situations, families may falsely view child marriage as a means to financially, socially, and physically protect their girls. While the exact timing of such crises cannot be predicted, analying past events can help understand their potential effects on girls’ vulnerability.
South Asia has witnessed a decline in child marriage rates, primarily in India. However, in sub-Saharan Africa, one in three girls still marries before the age 18. West and Central Africa, in particular, have the highest prevalence of child marriage globally. Despite some progress benefiting the wealthiest, child marriage rates have increased among the poorest segments of society. Sub-Saharan Africa faces unique challenges, including conflict, climate shocks, and population growth that outpaces progress in ending child marriage.
Child marriage and early sexual activity pose serious health risks, including complications during pregnancy and childbirth. The report cites Rwanda and Ethiopia as examples of progress in Africa, emphasizing the possibility of ending child marriage through income and economic interventions. Efforts to combat child marriage must address the underlying causes and promote comprehensive solutions for sustainable change.
Double-check the headlines
Just making sure you didn’t miss any major world events this week.
CarynAI is the first AI companion product from a new startup, Forever Voices, allowing users to chat with a digital version of the fastest-growing Snapchat star.
The Guardians 6 min documentary about how humans have changed how rivers work and why some cities are reversing it to reduce the risk of climate disasters.
In this episode of Have a Nice Future, Gideon Lichfield and Lauren Goode talk to Meredith Whittaker, the president of the Signal Foundation, about whether we’re doomed to give up all our private information to tech companies. Whittaker, who saw what she calls the “surveillance business model” from the inside while working at Google, says we don’t need to go down without a fight and outlines strategies for getting our privacy back.
There are lots of vacation activities that don’t impact the planet negatively. Sail, surf, hike, bike, eat, sleep. Vacationing in ways that require flying is only for people with poor imagination.x
Settle. Every time I go for a run, I think, “I’m gonna run really slow today,” which has made it much more enjoyable. What I lose in efficiency, I make up for in consistency.
I bought this big jar of Chinese chili oil a couple of months back from a proper Asian store. I needed it for one specific dish, but it is now my favourite way to spice up almost anything. Cheap luxury.
Thank you for reading! Every time a post gets shared, it makes me very happy. /Anna