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Monday newspaper round-up: Leicester factories, Google, household spending

(Sharecast News) - More than half of the Leicester garment workers involved in a new study say they are paid below the minimum wage and receive no holiday pay, almost two years on from revelations about poor standards in the city's factories. The study was commissioned by a new body, the Garment and Textile Workers Trust, which is funded by online fashion retailer Boohoo, as part of efforts to clean up its act after revelations about poor practice in the group's Leicester supply chain. - Guardian The suspension of a Google engineer who claimed a computer chatbot he was working on had become sentient and was thinking and reasoning like a human being has put new scrutiny on the capacity of, and secrecy surrounding, the world of artificial intelligence (AI). The technology giant placed Blake Lemoine on leave last week after he published transcripts of conversations between himself, a Google "collaborator", and the company's LaMDA (language model for dialogue applications) chatbot development system. - Guardian

A shorter week with no loss of pay seemed like a great idea during the strains of lockdown, when Samantha Losey was working "soul-destroying" 80-hour weeks. But after her communications company Unity was picked out of 500 applicants to join the world's biggest four-day working week pilot, which kicked off last Monday, the managing director began to get cold feet. The agency had just had an influx of new clients, and Losey felt this might not be the best time to test out such a radical idea after all. - Telegraph

The work from home revolution has caused "permanent scarring" to the UK's high streets as staff continue to shun the office months after pandemic restrictions have ended, the boss of a data firm has warned. Diane Wehrle, chief executive of Springboard, which tracks shop visitor numbers across the country, said footfall in towns and cities still remains well below pre-pandemic levels. - Telegraph

British household spending will shrink next year, the CBI has warned, as it called on the government to take measures to stimulate business investment to prevent a wider economic downturn. The organisation's latest economic forecast slashes growth this year and next and predicts that household spending will turn negative next year as a result of surging inflation squeezing living standards. - The Times

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