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Interesting Stuffs – 18

Exciting things I learned and read during the week (14 Nov – 20 Nov):

  1. We’re getting a better idea of AI’s true carbon footprint

“Large language models (LLMs) have a dirty secret: they require vast amounts of energy to train and run”

“Hugging Face estimated that BLOOM’s training led to 25 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. But, the researchers found, that figure doubled when they took into account the emissions produced by the manufacturing of the computer equipment used for training, the broader computing infrastructure, and the energy required to actually run BLOOM once it was trained. “

“While that may seem like a lot for one model—50 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions is the equivalent of around 60 flights between London and New York—it’s significantly less than the emissions associated with other LLMs of the same size. This is because BLOOM was trained on a French supercomputer that is mostly powered by nuclear energy, which doesn’t produce carbon dioxide emissions. Models trained in China, Australia, or some parts of the US, which have energy grids that rely more on fossil fuels, are likely to be more polluting.”

“It might also encourage people to shift toward more efficient ways of doing AI research, such as fine-tuning existing models instead of pushing for models that are even bigger, says Luccioni. “

2. How to Read the Tree Leaves

” The textbook used in that course, Brian Capon’s “Botany for Gardeners: An Introduction to the Science of Plants,” has sold more than 260,000 copies since it was published in 1990. “

“Batten Down the Hatches: Dormancy – “it’s an ecological adaptation for living in a cold environment, to survive the cold,”

“In preparation, the undeveloped flowers, leaves or shoots may become encased in overlapping bud scales every autumn. Some species may also coat the covered buds in “a thick resin to protect them from the cold and wind,”

“It’s not just the buds that benefit from the waterproof sealant. Some insects do, too. Honey bees, for instance, mix the resin they scrape from bud scales and other plant parts with their saliva to produce propolis, which they use as a glue to seal cracks in their hives, Dr. Day said.”

Noted: Nature provides — and it wastes nothing.

The Coloring Up, and the Letting Go

“None of this would happen without the plant hormones,” Dr. Day said.

Which hormone is at work in leaf drop? Not abscisic acid, the one that “abscission zone” would seem to imply. That hormone tells the plant to form the bud scales, to stop certain aspects of growth ahead of dormancy and even to keep the seed dormant until the time is right for germination, Dr. Day said.

It is now understood instead that ethylene — better known for its role in ripening fruits — is the catalyst. (Fruit and flowers, with their own specialized abscission zones and timing, are likewise influenced by ethylene on when to drop.)

Plenty of garden downtime lies ahead for such exploration. The scars are a useful tool for winter tree identification, said Dr. Alvarez, who admits that she and Dr. Day “get obsessive over leaf-scar photos.”

Dr. Day explained: “You learn to look at the scars and say, ‘Oh, that’s an Ailanthus’ or ‘That’s a horse chestnut.’”

The horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), for example, with its big compound foliage, “leaves behind what looks like a little horseshoe or smiley-face scar,” she said.

“As part of their life cycle, conifers undergo leaf drop, too. But it’s a sequential one — not an annual process like that of deciduous trees, and not to be confused with discolored foliage throughout the tree or at the branch tips at other times, which may indicate disease or injury.

Each year, the oldest foliage fades and prepares to fall. How long each needle holds on before that is particular to the species, ranging from two years to four or more.”

3. Michelle Obama Has Some Advice

In her new book, “The Light We Carry,” the former first lady shares coping strategies for surviving stress and uncertainty.

“I want to hear from Michelle Obama, who doesn’t always like the way she looks, who felt like an outsider after becoming the ultimate insider; the one who easily becomes lonely; the striver who has spent a lifetime dogged by the question: Am I good enough? The person who sweats. Because this person does not blithely claim to have the answers. She is on a journey. Through her stories, experiences and thoughts, we’re finding the light with her. Lucky us.”

“In a chapter on friendship, Obama writes about the importance of having a “kitchen table” of girlfriends. Although we are unlikely to face the problem of trying to acquire new kindred spirits while surrounded by the Secret Service, and most of us don’t have to worry that casual venting over nonsense will end up splashed across social media, the very act of trying to make new friends — the awkwardness, the profound desire to find people we can trust — that is very relatable. Who was the last first lady you could say that about?”

“Each chapter is a tool, as Obama puts it, to help keep yourself together. Her thoughts are nuanced and never prescriptive; she tells stories about what has worked for her. In a chapter aptly titled “The Power of Small,” for example, she tells us about how, when the world seems overwhelming, little victories can see us through. (For Obama, it was knitting: “Shaken by the enormity of everything that was happening, I needed my hands to introduce me to what was good, simple and accomplishable.” She taught herself using YouTube.)”

“There are chapters on leading with kindness, on partnering (where she spills just enough tea on Barack to make it fun) and on decoding fear. Not ignoring or denying it, but making sure we don’t squander an opportunity because of it. In a chapter on parenting and being parented, Obama offers advice from the writer Toni Morrison: “When a kid walks in the room, your child or anybody else’s, does your face light up? That’s what they’re looking for.””

“My goal was always to do serious work in a joyful way, to show people what’s possible if we keep choosing to go high,” Obama writes. 

4. What to Know About Seasonal Depression

“A leading theory has to do with a shift in the biological clock. Normally, the body produces melatonin at night, which helps promote sleep. When the levels of melatonin taper off as sunrise approaches, that helps people wake up. But if you have winter SAD, melatonin peaks later and lingers for longer into the morning, making it harder to wake up and leaving you fatigued and groggy. Because you don’t reach peak wakefulness until later in the day, it’s harder to fall asleep once evening comes — perpetuating a cycle of insomnia, inadequate sleep and fatigue, and exacerbating depressive symptoms.”

Bright light treatment first thing in the morning dramatically improves the vast majority of people with seasonal affective disorder,” 

C.B.T., a form of talk therapy that aims to shift faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking, can also be beneficial”

“Seasonal depression can also be treated with antidepressant medications, like the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors fluoxetine (Prozac), citalopram (Celexa), sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil) and escitalopram (Lexapro).”

Simply going outside can also help boost your mood, Dr. Yan said. Even if it looks a little gray, the quality of light on a winter morning will be better than what you can get in your home. And an excursion will most likely boost your mental health too, she added.”

5. Meet Your New Corporate Office Mate: A ‘Brainless’ Robot

“The new workers zipped around the office completing mundane tasks like fetching coffee, delivering meals and handing off packages. They did not get in anyone’s way or violate personal space. They waited unobtrusively for elevators with unfailing politeness. And, perhaps most enticingly, they did not complain.

That’s because they were robots.

Naver’s network of web services, including a search engine, maps, email and news aggregation, is dominant in South Korea, but its reach abroad is limited, lacking the global renown of a company like Google. The company has been on the hunt for new avenues for growth. In October, it agreed to acquire Poshmark, an online secondhand retailer, for $1.2 billion. Now, Naver sees the software that powers robots in corporate office spaces as a product that other companies may eventually want.

As part of its research, Naver has also published studies in the field of human-robot interaction. After a series of experiments, for example, Naver concluded that the optimal spot for a robot in a crowded elevator with humans was the corner next to the entrance on the side opposite of the elevator buttons. Putting the robot at the back of the elevator made humans uncomfortable, Naver’s researchers found.”

6. Europe’s Energy Risks Go Beyond Gas

But gas wasn’t the only fuel to face a major test this year. Nuclear and hydropower faltered amid maintenance delays and extreme weather, while record wind and solar power generation saved Europe from a far worse fate, according to data from Ember, an energy think tank.

7. The race to reinvent the car industry

“After a day’s work, you are not quite ready to go home. Perhaps you fancy catching a film. You could head to the cinema. Instead, you retreat into your car. A few taps on the touchscreen dashboard and the vehicle turns into a multimedia cocoon. Light trickles down the interior surfaces like a waterfall. Speakers ooze surround-sound. Augmented-reality glasses make a screen appear in front of your eyes.

Nio is at the forefront of a revolution in the car industry: the archetypal hardware business is becoming ever more about software. 

Moreover, making the mechanical engineers who still dominate the industry work with software engineers, who will increasingly take a lead, will not be easy. One side is trained to achieve the perfect Spaltmaß, a German word for the gap between a car’s body panels. The other has no problem putting out half-baked “beta” products and collecting feedback from users. Making these cultures dovetail takes time, says Anja Hendel of Diconium, a firm that helps manufacturers build software divisions. One of the purposes of initiatives like Stellantis’s academy and Mercedes-Benz’s hub is to speed up the process.”

8. The 13 Watt Light Bulb and the Bulldozer on the Falcon…The power of design in getting people to adopt new technologies

“By balancing familiarity and novelty, innovators can make transitions to new products easier. This is often against the instincts of founders, who want to introduce something new and radical to the world. But, often, the closer a new innovation is to old usage patterns, the less friction there is in adoption.

9. Su khoc liet cua thi truong lao dong

10. Xe hơi điện: VinFast muốn chen chân vào thị trường châu Âu

“ Chúng tôi không chỉ thâm nhập thị trường Pháp, mà còn sẽ có mặt ở châu Âu nói chung, cũng như ở Hoa Kỳ và Canada. Riêng ở châu Âu, chúng tôi nhắm vào ba thị trường, đó là Pháp, Đức và Hà Lan.

Trụ cột thứ nhất là chất lượng xe của chúng tôi. Trụ cột thứ hai là giá xe phải chăng và trụ cột thứ ba là một dịch vụ hậu mãi ( après-vente) chất lượng rất cao. 

Thứ nhất, về chất lượng thì chúng tôi bảo hành xe đến 10 năm, vì chúng tôi tin tưởng vào chất lượng xe của VinFast. Chúng tôi có những đối tác hàng đầu. Bốn chiếc xe được trưng bày ở đây là do một hãng của Ý vẽ kiểu. Chẳng hạn như hai chiếc VF 8 và VF 9 là do Pininfarina vẽ kiểu. 

Thứ hai là giá xe mà chúng tôi cho là “phải chăng”. Có ba cách: khách hàng có thể mua toàn bộ chiếc xe, thuê toàn bộ chiếc xe, hoặc chỉ mua xe và thuê pin. Nếu chỉ mua xe và thuê pin thì giá xe tính ra chỉ bằng xe chạy xăng dầu với với đẳng cấp tương tự. Về giá thuê pin thì chúng tôi rất minh bạch với khách hàng: Chẳng hạn như đối với xe VF 8, giá thuê là 120 euro mỗi tháng và trong suốt 10 năm bảo hành  giá thuê sẽ vẫn như thế. Hiếm có mặt hàng nào như vậy mà 10 năm sau giá thuê vẫn không thay đổi. 

Thứ ba là một dịch vụ hậu mãi chất lượng cao, bởi vì chúng tôi bảo hành xe trong 10 năm. Chúng tôi sẽ mở tổng cộng 56 cơ sở ở châu Âu trong vòng 12 tháng tới. Cơ sở đầu tiên sẽ được khai trương trong tháng 11 tại Koln, Đức, cơ sở thứ hai sẽ là ở Paris. Nói chung chúng tôi sẽ triển khai rất nhanh và đó là điều rất quan trọng.”

Thị trường xe hơi chạy điện ở Pháp nói riêng và ở châu Âu nói chung hiện vẫn còn chiếm thiểu số. Chẳng hạn như tại Pháp, trong năm 2021, dân Pháp đã mua tổng cộng khoảng 300.000 xe chạy 100% điện và xe hybrid có thể sạc điện, tức là cứ 5 chiếc xe bán ra thì có gần 1 chiếc là xe điện. Như vậy, xe hơi điện hiện chiếm 18,3% thị trường xe hơi ở Pháp, nhưng giá cao và những khó khăn về sạc pin khiến cho mức tăng không được nhanh như mong muốn của các nhà sản xuất. 

Trong một thị trường còn “chật chội ” như vậy, VinFast sẽ còn phải đương đầu với nhiều đối thủ đến Trung Quốc, có mặt rất đông đảo tại Triển lãm xe hơi quốc tế Paris vừa rồi, như hãng BYD (Build Your Dreams). Hãng này đã trưng bày toàn bộ những kiểu xe điện sẽ được bán ra ở châu Âu trong những tháng tới. Nằm đối diện với gian trưng bày của VinFast là gian của một hãng Trung Quốc khác là GWM (Great Wall Motor) với hai thương hiệu là Ora và Wey, cũng giới thiệu với công chúng Paris một số kiểu xe điện. 

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