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There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.
Both pundits are talking about how ChatGPT, which creates and writes much better than most people do, has entered and will soon dominate our world. For Gates, “it will change the way people work, learn, travel, get healthcare, and communicate with each other. Entire industries will reorient around it. Businesses will distinguish themselves by how well they use it.”
For Friedman, the change is Promethean. It’s “one of those moments in history when certain new tools, ways of thinking or energy sources are introduced that are such a departure and advance on what existed before that you can’t just change one thing, you have to change everything. That is, how you create, how you compete, how you collaborate, how you work, how you learn, how you govern and, yes, how you cheat, commit crimes and fight wars.”
I’ve worked hard these past months to avoid reading much about ChatGPT. Denial is strong, and I’m a writer, after all. But at least I’m an old one. So here’s a starter kit on how to cope with one of the biggest changes of our lives, still to come.
P.S. Thanks to Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov Lenin for the thought at the top of this blog.
1. Italian women. One of them leads Italy’s government, and the other its opposition. Giorgia Meloni, 46, is a savvy right-wing neo-fascist and Italy’s first woman Prime Minister. Her platform is “"Yes to the natural family, no to the LGBT lobby, yes to sexual identity, no to gender ideology... no to Islamist violence, yes to secure borders, no to mass migration... no to big international finance... no to the bureaucrats of Brussels."
Leading Italy’s opposition is Elly Schlein, 37, who is gay and part Bernie Sanders, part Barack Obama and a dash of AOC thrown in. She holds Italian, American and Swiss passports. Here’s the TEDTalk she gave (with English subtitles) three months before she was elected to head her party.
Speaking of women, in the loud debate about the relation between diversity and corporate performance, let’s not forget that 8 years ago the Harvard Business Review revealed that CEOs who have daughters run more socially-responsible companies:
Also, if you’re a woman looking to start running, or get back into it, check out 261 Fearless Toronto. The “26l” refers to Kathrine Switzer’s bib number when she entered the Boston Marathon illegally in 1967 when women were forbidden from running marathons. As Julie Meltzer, the Toronto club’s director says: “ We focus on the fun, social, non-competitive side of running. We offer a safe, friendly and fun environment for women to run together. To learn more or join, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
2. The most popular dog in America is the French Bulldog. After Labrador Retrievers held the title for the past 31 years, they were finally overtaken. As The Economist points out: “In Britain Frenchies have gone from the 22nd-most popular breed in 2011 to second today; in South Africa they have leapt from 27th to first over an even shorter period.”
3. Cereal before bed? Food makers push ‘sleep’ snacks at night. The makers of Raisin Bran have launched Sweet Dreams cereal to help you sleep and create a fourth meal of the day. Said a spokesman: “Consumers are looking to embrace acts of self-care and a relaxing bedtime routine is key to a good night’s sleep. We’re thrilled to [provide] a nutrient dense before-bed snack made to support a sleep routine they could only dream of until now."
Really? I thought food that’s high in sugar, saturated fat and carbohydrates is associated with poorer sleep. Oh, and how many calories in a cup of Sweet Dreams? 240.
5. Want to attend the Oxford Literary Festival? It starts today, March 25th, runs all this next week and offers a groaning board of writers and thinkers online. Netflix has just renewed as a sponsor, so maybe next year Canadians can see the talks online. Maybe if Netflix partnered with the Toronto International Festival of Authors, that could ease its problems in Ottawa and its 6.5 million Canadian subscribers.
Again on the Brits, why do they sound more clever than us and the Americans? Mainly because when they say “right,” it means something different from when we say “right.” They take it to mean “that’s new and interesting.” We take it to mean “I knew that.”
So we hear British speakers claiming to already know what they are being told—even though they don't. They’re smarter than us.
6. Your first AI-powered cookbook. Just key in your leftovers and odd bits of food, and voila, recipes for a great meal.
7. Pictures, places and facts. The Sony World Photography Award reveals how the mundane can be thrillingly fresh; for more in-person photo greatness, catch the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit, on at the Royal Ontario Museum ‘till April 12.
Time Magazine this week offered up The World’s Greatest Places. Of the 50 they want you to visit, two are in Canada: Churchill Manitoba because of the belugas and polar bears, and Vancouver, because of the cuisine.
Here also are some impressive facts. Including this: “If officials awarded Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France title to the next fastest finisher who has never been linked to doping, they’d have to give it to the 23rd place finisher.”
8. The Blackberry movie. The "true story" of the meteoric rise and catastrophic demise of the world's first smartphone, is getting rave reviews, including a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Here’s the trailer. It opens in theatres on May 12.
10. I see you, I hear you. Watch Leonard Bernstein conduct only with his eyebrows. Watch Hey Jude at Carnegie Hall last week. Watch Paul Robeson sing “Joe Hill” to the British mining community in 1949, and Joan Baez singing it at Woodstock in 1969.