Robots in religion + more things

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Robots in religion

I was sparked to lead this post based on footage that I watched about a priest in South India with regards a robotic elephant. Robots in religion have taken off in both Shinto and Hindu ceremonies.


Academics have widely talked about how the Shinto-based belief system have aided Japanese societal acceptance of robots, in comparison to western society. Secondly, Japanese authors have been exploring what it means to be human and what kind of dilemmas and opportunities do robots and AI bring in a future society. Robots in religion are a natural extension of robots in society.

Buddhism leads the way

What’s less commented on is that Japan’s buddhist temples have been leading robots in religion. The reality is that many Japanese see Shinto and Buddhism as complementary in nature and get involved in both beliefs.

Japan has some unique religious challenges that are interlinked. Temples are struggling as less people are active in their religious practice, the factors for this decline is multi-factorial in nature.

A second challenge that as the population shrinks roles need to be automated. What started in factories is now impacting the food and beverage sector (vending machines and restaurant robo-serving staff), so it was only a matter of time that robots in religion would supplement the clergy.


In India robots in religion is about kindness and de-risking religious ceremonies. In South India elephants take part in religious ceremonies. However the conditions that elephants are kept in can be cruel in nature and even result in death. Secondly, elephants can unintentionally kill or injure people involved in a religious celebration. This report on NHK World shows how robots in religion have been adapted to Hindu needs.

Finally, the elephant robot is used in celebrations over a large geographic area and is easily transported around. Robots in religion are likely to make even more sense as India urbanises even further, as the benefits are amplified in the denser environment.


What the Future Might Hold for Asia: “Every Time China Has Been United, It Has Dominated” – DER SPIEGEL – Singapore expects us all to be dominated by China. But in the meantime China’s economy doesn’t look healthy: China’s Economy Is Imploding. That’s a Problem for US, Wall Street. | Business Insider

China is losing Eastern Europe – Atlantic Council – contrast this with George Yeo’s take on China.

How confucianism, communism (in particular Stalin’s take on Leninism) and an accident of history has led to the nationalistic, fragile, insecure Chinese state with imperial ambitions we know today.

Xi Jinping’s dream of a Chinese military-industrial complex | Financial Times – interesting that the FT is delving into this in depth

Consumer behaviour

Edelman Brand Study: Consumers Prefer Safety Over Excitement | Provoke Media – A new study from Edelman finds that consumers, feeling increasingly vulnerable, favor brands that make them feel safe and secure.


mainly macro: The campaign against Labour borrowing to invest 

Now is the time to confront UK’s investment-phobia | IPPR 

China’s ‘trinket town’ at heart of push for renminbi trade | Financial TimesYiwu was one of the first cities in China to allow individual merchants to settle larger cross-border deals in renminbi. Most cities have an annual cap of $50,000. Given Yiwu’s reputation for cheap goods and flexible terms, helped by the fact that wholesalers do not pay either corporate tax or market rent, exporters have sufficient bargaining power to request settlement in renminbi. “When you have only one place to go to purchase something, the seller sets the terms on how transactions are settled,” said James Wu, a Yiwu-based furniture exporter who began demanding renminbi payments from Middle Eastern clients last year – the last quote is a great example of


China gives green light to nuclear reactor that burns thorium – a fuel that could power the country for 20,000 years | South China Morning Post 

Heat pumps, heat pumps, heat pumps!! – by Noah Smith 


‘Men are nervous working with women’ after string of harassment claims, says ex-Tesco chair John Allan – sits back, grabs popcorn


The US bubble tea market predicted to grow the fastest: Tips for Chinese tea brands to localize | Daxue Consulting 

Top Scandinavian companies are boycotting the maker of Oreo and Toblerone for its business in Russia | Quartz 


China’s quantum leap — Made in Germany – DW – 06/13/2023 and EU funding Huawei in critical tech projects despite bans on Chinese group | Financial Times – this looks foolish. Why are EU countries supporting something China would financially support anyway and that’s before you even get into the security angles of it


Interesting video from NHK World on how temples are adapting to a lack of new attendees and priests. I am not sure whether this is down to demographic change or the secularisation of society

A Pokémon-Card Crime Spree Jolts Japan – WSJJapan has been staggered by a Pokémon crime spree. Stores are now paying for banklike security to ward off villains who go to extraordinary lengths, even rappelling down the side of buildings, to plunder Pokémon. Hosaka was working in senior care when he had the idea of opening a cozy card shop in the suburb of Machida where customers could mingle at tables. Instead, he says, the little cards, “have become like Rolex watches, gold, silver, platinum or used cars.” – It makes sense when you think of the cards being ‘real life NFTs’


Ex-Samsung Exec Charged with Stealing Chip Tech for China Factory – The Chosun Ilbo

Disney seems to be badly misjudging high growth foreign markets from China to Korea.


Huawei said to be putting the licensing squeeze on SMEs • The Register – demanding licence fees from Japanese companies that use wifi or wireless modules


Criminal Rolex Gangs and Traveling with Watches, Part I – WOE – crime affecting luxury consumption. Interesting that London is a crime centre is prominently name checked alongside Johannesburg, South Africa. This will impact luxury retailers, luxury travel and hospitality and auction houses


Bay Area Lawsuit Alleges Man Spent $220,000 To Get A Watch He Never Got – there’s also the added complexity of Shreve recently losing its status as a Patek AD. The lawsuit brings some ten causes of action against Shreve, including breach of contract, intentional and negligent misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, false promise, and unfair business practices, pursuant to California’s Unfair Competition Law – this was only a matter of time. Its the same in the UK

Redefining luxury hospitality: Why top brands need to shatter the ‘paradise’ promise – Hotel brands are undervalued, undifferentiated and don’t engender repeat custom from luxury travellers

Move over gorpcore. Technical fashion for the city is here | Vogue Business – luxury brands like Côte&Ciel are adapting technical fabrics and technical wear for a more fashion take – another point of intersection of streetwear culture


Cannes Contenders: Cheil’s Game-Changing Creative | LBBOnline 

The wrong and the real of it – Magic Numbers 

BE@Cannes: An obsession with efficiency and ROI is really dangerous in marketing, Les Binet

Ad agencies and clients clash: tension over transparency in fees, services | Ad Agea talent shortage has left agencies without enough senior executives to service accounts. Combined, such factors contribute to what marketers see as an increasing lack of transparency. One executive who leads procurement across marketing and content for a major consumer goods company said the discounts and rebates that media agencies, in particular, get from a media buy have always been “murky,” but one area agencies have always been transparent in is breaking down their fees. The brand executive said auditors, working on behalf of the marketers, have previously been able to get agencies to disclose their margins, overheads and salaries without protest—it’s standard practice and allows clients to know they are being charged a fair price. But that’s starting to change, they said, having run into issues with getting shops to break down their fees in the recent agency review their company underwent


This Year Next Year: 2023 Global Mid-Year Forecast – GroupMcalls the end of radio’s global growth story. Even taking into account streaming, WPP says that, globally, ad-supported audio has peaked. It will grow just 0.3% this year, says GroupM then “remain roughly flat over the next five years”. It’s about to join newspapers, magazines and broadcast television in a downward trajectory. GroupM also tackles the impact of AI on the industry. It reckons that within five years, the portion of “AI-enabled” advertising revenue globally will be worth $800bn. What is impossible to quantify is whether any of that is new money. Most likely, none of it. What is also impossible to quantify is just how dramatic the AI-driven reductions in cost of production will be. That sounds a relatively benign question until one realises that all those reduced costs are human jobs. GroupM identifies five key themes: Regulation (particularly around data privacy); connected TV (and an annualised 10%+ growth in the segment)’; AI “is likely to inform, or touch in some way, at least half of all advertising revenue by the end of 2023”; retail media to overtake TV by 2028; and “new business growth” (which sounds like the sort of thing an agency person would put in their predictions). Most importantly though, the GroupM outlook points to a more more significant factor. We’re at the end of a cycle that was defined by shifts between advertising channels, and then the disruption of Covid. “We are at an inflection point where the secular drivers of advertising growth above and beyond GDP growth are maturing, the pandemic upheaval is receding and the dynamic rise of digital advertising has slowed. This is the basis of our underlying forecast of mid-single-digit advertising growth over the next five years. However, the pervasive impact of AI on the world of advertising could change that.”


12ft | No One Knows Exactly What Social Media Is Doing to Teens – The Atlantic 


Filipino fishermen in the UK live lives of peril and loneliness | FT


Is Supreme Still Cool? – WSJ – rolled out more shops and addressed the undersupply in the market but this might impact the hype beast audience Supreme Lost Over $38 Million in Revenue in 2022: Report – Robb Report 


Malaysia’s Grim Islamic Future – Asia Sentinel – move back towards 6th century Shariah law, which is very different to the tradition of Malay Islam

The Dynamics of the Ukrainian IT Army’s Campaign in Russia – Lawfare

Chinese spies behind Barracuda ESG data-stealing attacks • The Register


AI at Work: What People Are Saying | BCG – leaders love it, workers don’t. Businesses have only addressed the needs of leaders, which probably dialled up the anxiety with a sense that AI is something that happens to you and your career rather like a bad car accident

‘Linux’ Foundation Increases Number of Microsoft Employees in the Board of Directors to THREE, the Only Geek in the Board Has Left (or Got Removed) | Techrights 

‘Godfather of AI’ warns the worldーNHK WORLD-JAPAN NEWS – YouTubebig thing here – a Google model can tell you why a joke is funny. From a creative point of view that is a crossing of the Rubicon

Google warns its own employees: Do not use code generated by Bard | The Register

Beeper — All your chats in one app. Yes, really. – clients like Adium became less useful as Google and other services went away from common protocols and the IM giants AOL, MSN and Yahoo! disappeared. Beeper are trying to address this


The Zhongshan suit. A witness to China’s modernisation | by MrOldMajor | Medium

Umbro China leads UK students into luxe sportswear | Jing Daily


What Is Micro-OLED? Apple Vision Pro’s Screen Tech Explained – CNET and Sony refuses to increase Vision Pro production capacity for Apple – this reluctance might be down to coopetition.

Microchip Cesium Atomic Clock Enables Autonomous Time Keeping for Months | EE Times Asia

Are We Reaching the Limits of Homegrown Silicon? | Digits to Dollars 


Subsea cables: how the US is pushing China out of the internet’s plumbing | FT