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Issue #22

Taylor Swift shakes EU economy, Microsoft CEO says AI is a new species, China grinds tech workers, and more.

News from June 20 - June 27, 2024

Taylor Swift Shakes EU Economy

Economists are monitoring Taylor Swift's Eras Tour to see its impact on Europe’s inflation. The high demand for flights and hotels from her tour could push up prices, complicating central banks' decisions on interest rates. 

George Moran, Economist: "Taylor Swift is obviously a massive phenomenon, and the areas that she’s visiting is causing a big buzz in the hospitality sector.” Last month, Portugal’s inflation rate accelerated, in part because of a jump in hotel prices in Lisbon. Taylor Swift performed there on May 24 and 25 to over 130,000 fans.

While local economies benefit in the short term, the overall national impact remains uncertain.


AI Workers Frustrate Fast Food Customers

McDonald's is ending its AI drive-through pilot with IBM due to frequent errors, including one customer receiving hundreds of unwanted chicken nuggets. Meanwhile, Wendy's and White Castle continue using AI but require human intervention for ~14% of orders, raising questions about cost-effectiveness and customer satisfaction. 

Critics argue these systems are costly, error-prone, and annoying to customers. 

Additionally, AI systems capture customer voices for commercial purposes, raising privacy concerns. Reddit user: "I would just drive to another restaurant at that point.”


EU Hits China With Tariffs

China and the European Union (EU) are set to begin negotiations on proposed tariffs affecting Chinese-made electric vehicles (EVs) entering the European market. The goal of these talks is to address concerns related to subsidies and ensure fair competition. If approved, these tariff measures could lead to higher prices for EVs in Europe as global markets adjust. Conversely, Chinese manufacturers might experience a decrease in demand for their exports.

Zheng Shanjie, Chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission: "We will do everything to protect Chinese companies."

Habeck, Germany’s Economy Minister: “It is important to understand that these are not punitive tariffs, Europe does things differently.”


Bulletin Board

  • Microsoft CEO Says AI Is A New Species. Mustafa Suleyman, Microsoft AI CEO and co-founder of DeepMind, describes AI as a "new digital species" set to transform human life. Suleyman: “They'll be companions, confidants, colleagues, friends and partners.” While issues like factual reliability and ethical concerns persist, especially regarding the emotional impact on content moderators interacting with AI models, Suleyman believes that the long-term benefits of AI will surpass its short-term challenges. He compares the development of AI to creating a new digital world. Source
  • China Grinds Tech Workers. JD.com founder Richard Liu emphasized that employees prioritizing work-life balance are not a fit for the company, pushing for a hard-working culture. Amid low growth and rising competition, China's tech giants are demanding more from workers while cutting staff. “I’m not your mum, I only care about results.” said Qu Jing, Baidu’s former VP. Despite anti-996 regulations, the relentless work culture persists, impacting job security and employee well-being. Source 
  • Europe Slams Apple. The European Union has accused Apple of violating its Digital Markets Act (DMA) by restricting app developers from directing consumers to alternative payment methods and charging excessive fees. If found guilty, Apple could face fines of up to 20% of its global revenue. Thierry Breton, the EU's internal market commissioner: "Apple’s new slogan should be ‘act different’." This marks an escalation in the EU's scrutiny of Apple, with additional probes already being launched. Source
  • AI Godfather Endorses Human Replacement. AI pioneer Geoffrey Hinton, known as the "Godfather of AI," sparked debate by saying he supports superintelligent AI replacing humans but thinks it "wiser for me to say I am against it." During a December lecture, he noted humanity might not be the best form of intelligence. Despite leaving Google over AI misuse fears and previously warning about AI's potential to destroy humanity, he humorously remarked, "people don't like being replaced." He added, "maybe there comes a point when we see things like 'humanist' as racist terms." Source
  • AI Movie Premiere Cancelled. A London cinema canceled the premiere of "The Last Screenwriter," an AI-generated film, after receiving 200 complaints. Peter Luisi, director: "I think people don't know enough about the project. All they hear is ‘first film written entirely by AI,’ and they immediately see the enemy." Despite the backlash, a private screening for cast and crew will proceed. Source

Disclaimer: This blog offers insights into international business and global events for informational purposes only. It is not intended as investment or business advice. WeavePay is not liable for any decisions made based on the content provided.

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