技术带来的七大变化 Seven ways technology has changed us

本文摘要:It has become customary to talk of “technology” as if it were a special sector of the economy consisting of the manufacture of sophisticated electronic goods, the creation of software, and the provision of services reliant on information a


It has become customary to talk of “technology” as if it were a special sector of the economy consisting of the manufacture of sophisticated electronic goods, the creation of software, and the provision of services reliant on information and communications technology.如今人们习惯性地把“技术”说成一个尤其的经济部门,包括仪器电子产品生产、软件开发、以及获取倚赖信息和通信技术的服务。This is a ludicrously narrow definition. Every technique human beings have invented, from the stone axe onwards, is “technology”. The ability of humans to invent technologies is their defining characteristic. Furthermore, new general purpose technologies, such as the computer and the internet, have effects that fall far outside the technology sector, narrowly defined.这是一种狭小得离谱的定义。从石斧开始,人类发明者的每一种方法都是“技术”。


We need to assess contemporary innovations in their broader context. Here are seven points about these changes.我们必须在更大背景下评估当代创意。以下是有关这些变化的7点。

First, the penetration of recent innovations in communications technology has been astonishingly rapid. At the end of 2015, there were more than 7bn mobile phone subscriptions, a penetration rate of 97 per cent, up from around 10 per cent in 2000. Penetration of internet access grew from 7 per cent to 43 per cent over the same period. (See chart.)首先,近期的通信技术创新渗入速度快得难以置信。2015年末,移动手机订户多达了70亿,渗透率超过97%,远高于2000年的约10%。同期互联网终端的渗透率从7%升到43%。

(闻图表)Economically, this has led to the rise of ecommerce, the transformation of industries whose products can be converted into “bits (music, film and news media, for example) and the rise of the “sharing economy”. Socially, it has altered human interactions. Politically, it has affected relationships between the rulers and the ruled.在经济层面,这造成电子商务兴起、产品需要“比特化”(比如音乐、电影、新闻媒体)的行业再次发生改变、“共享经济”蓬勃发展。在社会层面,这转变了人际交往。

在政治层面,这影响了统治者和被统治者之间的关系。Second, a substantial “digital divide” exists. In 2015, 81 per cent of households in the developed world had internet access, the proportion in all developing countries was 34 per cent and the proportion for the least developed countries was a mere 7 per cent.第二,不存在一道深深的“数字鸿沟”。2015年,发达国家81%的家庭需要终端互联网,而所有发展中国家的互联网终端比例为34%,最不发达国家的终端比例仅有为7%。

Information is power. It is not yet clear whether the rapid spread of access will prove more important than the persistent differences in its availability. But there is reason for optimism. The ability to leapfrog poor communication and financial networks has already transformed some developing countries.信息就是力量。目前还不确切,互联网终端的很快普及不会会比互联网可用性方面的长久差异更加最重要。但我们有理由抱着悲观态度。

跨过差劲的通信和金融网络、构建跳跃式发展的能力早已改变了一些发展中国家。Third, the arrival of the internet and mobile phones has failed to generate a sustained upturn in the growth of productivity. This is shown best by the US, the leader in the development of the new technologies and, for more than a century, the world’s most productive and innovative large economy.第三,互联网和手机的普及未带给生产率增长速度的持续提升。美国就是最差的相比较。

美国是新技术发展的领导者,而且在一个多世纪期间仍然是世界上生产率最低、最创意的经济大国。Output per hour worked in the US grew at rate of 3 per cent a year in the 10 years up to 1966, after which the growth rate declined, falling to just 1.2 per cent in the 10 years to the early 1980s. After the launch of the worldwide web, the moving average rose to 2.5 per cent in the 10 years to 2005. But it then fell to just 1 per cent in the decade to 2015.在截至1966年的10年里,美国的每小时工作生产量每年快速增长3%,其后增长率上升,在截至上世纪80年代初的10年里跌到至1.2%。在万维网问世后,该增长率在截至2005年的10年里提升到2.5%。


然后又在截至2015年的10年里降到1%。A decomposition of the sources of growth in productive capacity underlines the point. Over the 10 years up to and including 2015, the average growth of “total factor productivity” in the US — a measure of innovation — was only 0.3 per cent a year.对生产力快速增长的来源展开解构凸显了这一点。

在截至2015年底的10年里,美国的“仅有要素生产率”(一种取决于创意的指标)平均值每年只快速增长0.3%。We should not be surprised. As Robert Gordon of Northwestern University argues, clean water, modern sewage, electricity, the telephone, the radio, the petroleum industry, the internal combustion engine, the motor car and the aeroplane — all innovations of the late 19th and early 20th centuries — were far more transformative than the information technologies of the past 75 years.我们不不应深感吃惊。正如美国西北大学(Northwestern University)的罗伯特戈登(Robert Gordon)所认为的,清洁水、现代下水道、电力、电话、收音机、石油行业、内燃机、汽车以及飞机都是19世纪末到20世纪初问世的创意,它们带给的变革相比之下小于过去75年期间的信息技术。

Some argue, against this, that statisticians are failing to measure output correctly, partly by failing to capture free services, such as search, which generate vast unmeasured surplus value.针对这一点,一些人主张,统计学家没能正确地取决于生产量,部分原因是没能把搜寻等免费服务计算出来在内,这些服务产生了予以测量的极大剩余价值。Yet it is not at all clear why statisticians should have suddenly lost their ability to measure the impact of new technologies in the early 2000s. Again, most new technologies have also generated vast unmeasured surplus value. Think of the impact of electric light on the ability to study.然而,我们不确切为何统计学家不会在21世纪之初忽然丧失取决于新技术影响的能力。


Fourth, the new technologies have reinforced tendencies towards greater inequality, in at least three respects. One is the rise of “winner-takes-all” markets in which a few successful people, businesses and products dominate the world economy. Another is the rise of globalisation. A last is the explosion in financial trading and other rent-extracting financial activities.第四,最少在三个方面,新技术强化了不公平不断扩大的趋势。第一是“赢者通吃”市场的兴起——少数成功人士、企业和产品主导了世界经济。


Some argue that the arrival of robots and artificial intelligence will transform labour markets, rendering even quite sophisticated skills redundant. This could, if true, generate divisions between the owners of the robots and the rest of the population as fundamental as those between landowners and landless labourers.一些人主张,机器人和人工智能的经常出现将转变劳动力市场,使一些非常简单的技能显得多余。若果真如此,这可能会使机器人的主人与其他人之间经常出现显然鸿沟,就像当年的地主和无地劳动者之间的鸿沟那样。

Sixth, the rise of global communications, of our reliance on cyberspace, of behemoth technology-enabled corporations and of “big data” raises difficult questions about privacy, national security, the ability to tax and, more broadly about the relationship between governments, corporations and individuals.第六,全球化通信的蓬勃发展、我们对网络空间的倚赖下降、巨型技术公司的兴起和“大数据”的发展给隐私、国家安全性、征收能力,以及更加广义的政府、企业和个人之间的关系明确提出了许多棘手的问题。Finally, the rise of pluralistic interactive media is affecting politics. Wider access to knowledge is a potential boon. But the new technologies can also be used to disseminate lies, hatred and stupidity.最后,多元化的对话媒体的发展正在影响政治。更加普遍的提供科学知识的途径是一个潜在的福音。

但新技术也有可能被用作散播谎言、仇恨和伪善。Technologies are tools. They offer opportunities and dangers. What we make of them is, as always, up to us.技术是工具。它们获取机会,也背后危险性。古往今来,我们如何利用技术一直各不相同我们自己。