Exercise 1

A. Listen. What do Michael and Pablo mainly talk about?

B. Listen again. Answer the questions.

 Why is Michael giving a presentation?

 What four problems does Michael have with his laptop?

 What does Pablo first suggest trying as a solution?

 Who does Pablo go to get for help?

C. Listen. Complete the conversation.

Michael:   Hmm…that’s strange. I thought I had this all set up and now I’m getting a(n) __________.

Pablo:   Error message? That’s not good. Was it working OK earlier?

Michael:   Yeah, there were no problems. I’d __________ at my presentation and everything seemed fine, and now the screen is __________.

Pablo:   Hmm…the same thing happened to me a few weeks ago.

Answers & Audioscripts

A B

Pablo:   Hey, Michael! What brings you to New York?

Michael:   Pablo! Good to see you. I’m getting ready for a big presentation.

Pablo:   Really?

Michael:   Yeah, we need to get approval before we can get started on a new project, so there’s a lot riding on this.

Pablo:   Good luck!

Michael:   Thanks. What about you? How are things here?

Pablo:   Fantastic. We’re really busy with the new ad campaign, but it’s never boring.

Michael:   Great!

Pablo:   So, what’s going on with your presentation? Something doesn’t look right.

Michael:   Hmm…that’s strange. I thought I had this all set up and now I’m getting an error message.

Pablo:   Error message? That’s not good. Was it working OK earlier?

Michael:   Yeah, there were no problems. I’d been looking at my presentation and everything seemed fine, and now the screen is frozen.

Pablo:   Hmm…the same thing happened to me a few weeks ago. Why don’t you try restarting your computer? That might fix the problem.

Michael:   Yeah. Good idea. OK, it’s restarting. Here we go.

Pablo:   Did it work?

Michael:   Oh, man! Now my log-in has failed. Wait. Let me try it again. OK, good, now it’s working. I must have just typed in the wrong password.

Pablo:   Problem solved.

Michael:   Oh, no. Now my presentation won’t display. Something else must be wrong. What am I supposed to do? My presentation is in less than an hour.

Pablo:   Maybe there’s something wrong with your settings. Let me go get tech support.

C

Michael:   Hmm…that’s strange. I thought I had this all set up and now I’m getting an error message.

Pablo:   Error message? That’s not good. Was it working OK earlier?

Michael:   Yeah, there were no problems. I’d been looking at my presentation and everything seemed fine, and now the screen is frozen.

Pablo:   Hmm…the same thing happened to me a few weeks ago.

Exercise 2

A. Listen. What problems does Michael report to Amy?

B. Listen again. Answer the questions.

1   How does Michael feel when he sees Amy?

2   Why doesn’t Amy think that the computer has a virus?

3   What is the last step Amy recommends to Michael?

4   How does Michael feel when Amy leaves? Why?

C. Listen. Complete the conversation.

Michael:   I restarted my computer, and everything looked fine, but now my presentation won’t load. What do you think is wrong?

Amy:   Hmm…Let me take a look.

Michael:   Sure.

Amy:   Well, _________ a big deal. Some of your settings just _________ to be _________. It’ll only take a few minutes.

Answers & Audioscripts

A B

Amy:   Hi, are you Michael? I’m Amy from tech support.

Michael:   Hi, Amy. Thanks for coming by. I’m so glad to see you.

Amy:   No problem. Pablo told me you’re having some trouble. What seems to be the problem?

Michael:   I’m not sure exactly. I’d been looking at my presentation, and suddenly I got an error message.

Amy:   Uh-huh.

Michael:   Then, my screen froze. I restarted my computer, and everything looked fine, but now my presentation won’t load. What do you think is wrong?

Amy:   Hmm…Let me take a look.

Michael:   Sure.

Amy:   Well, this shouldn’t be a big deal. Some of your settings just need to be restored. It’ll only take a few minutes.

Michael:   Great! I was worried it might be a virus or something.

Amy:   I don’t think so. I see you’ve installed the latest antivirus software.

Michael:   Yeah, a few days ago.

Amy:   That’s good. All right, almost finished. Let me just check this and make a quick update. OK, I think you should be good to go.

Michael:   Great! That was quick!

Amy:   Let’s just reboot the system and make sure everything is working before I leave.

Michael:   OK. Thanks.

Amy:   So, could you enter your password?

Michael:   Sure. It wasn’t working before, but I think it’s OK now. Yep, at least that doesn’t need resetting.

Amy:   Right. Now, check to see if you can open your presentation.

Michael:   Hey, it works! Thanks so much. You’re a real lifesaver!

Amy:   No problem. Glad to help. My office is right down the hall, so stop by if you have any more problems.

Michael:   OK, I will. Thanks again!

C

Michael:   I restarted my computer, and everything looked fine, but now my presentation won’t load. What do you think is wrong?

Amy:   Hmm…Let me take a look.

Michael:   Sure.

Amy:   Well, this shouldn’t be a big deal. Some of your settings just need to be restored. It’ll only take a few minutes.

Exercise 3

A. Listen. What is the speaker’s intention?

a   to explain how we need to improve technology

b   to warn that technology could have a negative effect

c   to convince us to stop using technology

B. Listen again. Check (✓) the ideas that are introduced as counterarguments.

a   The vision of the future in Wall-E is wildly exaggerated.

b   Some people no longer leave the house to buy things.

c   Digital assistants are a wonderful convenience.

d   It’s easy to ignore other people’s opinions.

e   I’m being unreasonable about technology. It makes life better.

C. Listen again. According to the speaker, which things could be making us lazier and / or less intelligent? Circle the items.

a   shopping online

b   movies

 social media

d   digital assistants

e   self-driving cars

 internet-connected refrigerators

g   hundreds of TV channels

h   washing machines

Answers & Audioscripts

Our Lazy, Dumb Future

Let me start with a question. Remember the children’s movie Wall-E? The one that depicted lazy humans in the future? These humans never walked—they spent their whole lives floating around in chairs that took them wherever they wanted to go. They never needed to cook or go shopping, and they were constantly entertained by screens projected in front of their faces, so they didn’t need to do a whole lot of thinking, either. You may think this vision of the future is wildly exaggerated—we all laughed when we saw it—but I’ve got bad news for you, folks. I think we’re well on the way there.

Just think about shopping. Around 2 billion of us already do at least some sort of shopping online, and brick-and-mortar stores are closing all over the world as more and more of us decide not to leave the house to buy things. For example, ordering groceries online gets easier all the time. For now, you at least have to push a few buttons on your phone to re-stock your kitchen. It couldn’t be easier, right? Well, I’m afraid it could: Soon internet-connected refrigerators will be ordering for us when they see supplies running low.

Maybe you don’t turn on your lights or air conditioners because your digital assistants do it for you. You don’t even need to pick up the remote to change the TV channel or play music because digital assistants can do that too. It’s as if the goal is to move our bodies as little as possible. People see digital assistants as a wonderful convenience, but what will happen to our muscles when we stop using them for even the smallest task—will we end up like those people in Wall-E who were hardly able to walk anymore?

But a deeper concern is this: What will happen to our minds? Are we getting not just lazier, but less intelligent? When my parents were young, they had to learn and retain all kinds of information—all their friends’ phone numbers, math formulas, historical events, dates—all the things that I’ve never bothered with because I can just ask my phone.

What’s this doing to our brains? What about critical thinking? In an age when we can get the so-called answer so easily, are we still being challenged to think for ourselves and engage with ideas that are different from our own? Between social media and hundreds of TV channels, it’s so easy to surround yourself with people whose opinions you agree with. For example, if a TV newsperson or a writer or my uncle on social media presents ideas that I don’t like, I can just tune them out by changing the channel, or putting the book down, or clicking “unfollow.” Other people’s opinions were harder to ignore when we had more limited media sources or when that uncle was actually in the room with us.

I know some people may say I’m being unreasonable—the purpose of technology has always been to make life easier. I mean, maybe washing machines made us lazier—most of us don’t carry our clothes to the river anymore—and don’t want to go back to that. And, obviously, technology has helped in areas like medicine. But is it all going too far, too fast? Will we end up like the people in Wall-E, staring blankly at screens while our minds and our bodies get weaker and weaker? What do you say? Do you want to avoid that future? What’s the first step you’ll take?

Exercise 4

A. Listen to the article. What is it about?

B. Listen again. Answer the questions, according to the article.

1   What kinds of hacking are usually considered wrong?

2   What did the public learn when major international law f rms were hacked?

3   What did the public learn when governments were hacked?

4   Why is the hacking debate going to continue in the future?

Answers & Audioscripts

IS HACKING EVER JUSTIFIED?

Hacking has become a big part of modern life. Every day, governments, organizations, businesses, and individuals are at risk of having their private information stolen and revealed. In fact, a University of Maryland study has shown that one hacking attempt takes place about every 39 seconds. Everyone can probably agree that most kinds of hacking are wrong, such as stealing customers’ financial data or removing photos from celebrities’ phones. But what about when hacking reveals that something illegal has taken place? Or when it exposes corruption? Are there any situations where hacking is actually justified?

HACKING AND BUSINESSES

Take these cases for example. In recent years, major international law fi rms have been hacked.

Information from the fi rms, which included millions of personal documents, was passed on to journalists who published some of it on their news sites. Through these hacks, the public learned how some of the world’s richest, most powerful people were spending and managing their money, in some cases even to avoid paying taxes.

When this information was revealed, a lot of people were surprised and angry. They felt that the hacks were justified because they showed how the rich and powerful have access to systems that other people don’t. They strongly believed that the public had the right to know this kind of information. Not everyone, however, agreed that the ends justified the means. They thought that even the rich and powerful deserved to keep their information private. They also worried that if it was OK to hack these people, what could protect other people?

HACKING AND GOVERNMENTS

Other situations have involved individuals and organizations that have attempted to hack into governments, either their own or foreign ones. Sometimes, these hackers manage to get sensitive information that they hand over to journalists or publish on their own websites for the whole world to see. This information often contains personal details about government officials and confidential documents about government programs and operations.

People have very different opinions about this kind of hacking. On the one hand, some people believe that it is helpful to show what governments and government officials are doing. They claim that this enables citizens to be more aware of their leaders’ actions, in order to prevent things like corruption. On the other hand, critics say that these hackers go too far and are doing something potentially dangerous. They are concerned that this kind of hacking could reveal national secrets, jeopardize people’s careers, or even endanger their lives.

Exercise 5

A. Listen. What is the topic of the presentation?

B. Listen again. Answer the questions.

1   Where are some companies putting solar panels?

2   What would the bottom layer of these new solar panels do? T

3   What are the benefits of using solar panels on roads?

Answers & Audioscripts

Clean energy from the sun, wind, and water is becoming more common as we’ve been searching for alternatives to oil and coal. Recently, there has been a lot of interest in solar power. Solar panels can be found on rooftops, on mountainsides, and in fields.

Now, some companies are also trying to put solar panels on roads. These solar panels would have different layers. The top layer would have really strong glass that protects the other layers and attracts sunlight. The middle layer would have electronics that could melt snow and ice. The bottom layer would turn the sunlight into energy. These solar panel roads would create energy that can be used to power things like lights, but they would also have other benefits. For instance, they could have sensors that would detect changes in light and pressure. This way, they could warn drivers about animals, branches, and other dangerous objects on the roads. The energy they make could also be used to recharge electric vehicles while they’re in motion.

Some people have said that solar panel roads are too expensive to build, but countries like the United States, France, and China, are already making them.

It’s encouraging that companies are coming up with clever ways to create energy and protect the environment. I hope more companies will figure out how to use clean energy in the future.

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