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經濟學人:悲觀情緒VS科技發展(2)

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Today’s gloomy mood is centred on smartphones and social media, which took off a decade ago. Yet concerns that humanity has taken a technological wrong turn, or that particular technologies might be doing more harm than good, have arisen before. In the 1970s the despondency was prompted by concerns about overpopulation, environmental damage and the prospect of nuclear immolation. The 1920s witnessed a backlash against cars, which had earlier been seen as a miraculous answer to the affliction of horse-drawn vehicles— which filled the streets with noise and dung, and caused congestion and accidents. And the blight of industrialisation was decried in the 19th century by Luddites, Romantics and socialists, who worried (with good reason) about the displacement of skilled artisans, the despoiling of the countryside and the suffering of factory hands toiling in smoke-belching mills.

如今,人們的悲觀情緒主要集中在智能手機和社交媒體上。然而,關于人類在技術上走錯了方向,或者某些技術可能弊大于利的擔憂,在此之前就已經出現了。20世紀70年代,人口過剩、環境破壞和核毀滅的前景引發了人們的擔憂,從而導致了這種沮喪情緒。20世紀20年代見證了一場反對汽車的運動,在此之前,汽車曾被視為解決馬車問題的靈丹妙藥,馬車讓街上充滿了噪音和糞便,造成了交通堵塞和事故。19世紀,工業化的衰落遭到了反對技術進步者、浪漫主義者和社會主義者的譴責,他們有充分的理由對熟練技工的流失、對農村的掠奪以及在濃煙滾滾的工廠里辛勤勞作的工人的痛苦感到擔憂。

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Stand back, and in each of these historical cases disappointment arose from a mix of unrealised hopes and unforeseen consequences. Technology unleashes the forces of creative destruction, so it is only natural that it leads to anxiety; for any given technology its drawbacks sometimes seem to outweigh its benefits. When this happens with several technologies at once, as today, the result is a wider sense of techno-pessimism.

退一步來看,在每一個歷史案例中,失望都是由未實現的希望和未預見的后果交織而成的。技術釋放了創造性破壞的力量,因此自然而然導致焦慮;對于任何給定的技術,它的缺點有時似乎超過了它的好處。當這種情況同時發生在幾項技術上時,就像今天,結果是一種更廣泛的技術悲觀主義。
However, that pessimism can be overdone. Too often people focus on the drawbacks of a new technology while taking its benefits for granted. Worries about screen time should be weighed against the much more substantial benefits of ubiquitous communication and the instant access to information and entertainment that smartphones make possible. A further danger is that Luddite efforts to avoid the short-term costs associated with a new technology will end up denying access to its longterm benefits—something Carl Benedikt Frey, an Oxford academic, calls a “technology trap”. Fears that robots will steal people’s jobs may prompt politicians to tax them, for example, to discourage their use. Yet in the long run countries that wish to maintain their standard of living as their workforce ages and shrinks will need more robots, not fewer.
然而,這種悲觀情緒可能過頭了。人們太過頻繁地關注一項新技術的缺點,卻認為好處是理所當然的。對盯屏幕時長的擔憂應該與無處不在的通信以及智能手機帶來的即時信息和娛樂帶來的更實質性的好處進行權衡。將來,另一個危險是,反對技術進步者試圖避免一項新技術帶來的短期成本的努力,最終將剝奪其長期利益,牛津大學學者卡爾•本尼迪克特•弗雷稱之為“技術陷阱”。人們擔心機器人會搶走人們的工作,這可能會促使政客們對機器人征稅,以阻止它們的使用。然而,從長遠來看,隨著勞動力的老齡化和萎縮,希望維持生活水平的國家將需要更多的機器人。

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重點單詞   查看全部解釋    
disappointment [.disə'pɔintmənt]

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n. 失望,令人失望的人或事

 
decade ['dekeid]

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n. 十年

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communication [kə.mju:ni'keiʃn]

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n. 溝通,交流,通訊,傳達,通信

 
humanity [hju:'mæniti]

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n. 人類,人性,人道,慈愛,(復)人文學科

 
prompt [prɔmpt]

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adj. 迅速的,敏捷的,立刻的
vt. 激起

 
creative [kri'eitiv]

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adj. 創造性的

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ubiquitous [ju:'bikwitəs]

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adj. 到處存在的,遍在的

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affliction [ə'flikʃən]

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n. 痛苦,苦惱,苦難

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trap [træp]

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n. 圈套,陷阱,困境,雙輪輕便馬車
v. 設

 
entertainment [.entə'teinmənt]

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n. 娛樂

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