恐怖的世界

“IT IS not possible to make a lasting compromise between technology and freedom, because technology is by far the more powerful social force and continually encroaches on freedom through repeated compromises.” Thus wrote the Unabomber, also known as Ted Kaczynski, in his manifesto, published in 1995 by the New York Times and the Washington Post in the hope that he might end his terror campaign or somebody might recognise his style of writing and unmask him.

“在科学技术和自由之间做出永久的妥协这是不可能的,因为科学技术一直以来都很拥有强有力的社会力量并且通过妥协让步持续不断蚕食着自由。”这是智能炸弹客写的话,他也就是特德·卡钦斯基,他的言论出版在1995年的《纽约时报》以及《华盛顿邮报》上,借此希望他能结束他的恐怖行动或者有人能够辨认出他的文笔撕下他的假面具。

Mr Kaczynski’s methods were abhorrent. His bombs killed three people and injured 23 over nearly 20 years. He was arrested in 1996 and is currently serving a life sentence. But his concern that technology will slowly but surely undermine human freedom is shared by quite a few mainstream thinkers. As this special report has argued, smart systems will improve efficiency and could help solve many environmental problems, in particular global warming. Yet if those systems seriously impinge on people’s freedom, many people will balk. The protests against smart meters in Bakersfield and elsewhere may be only the start.

卡钦斯基的手段残忍。差不多20年来,他的炸弹造成3人死亡和超过23人受伤。他在1996年被捕,并判处无期徒刑。但是他担心科学技术稳步发展会渐渐破坏人类自由,他的这种担心已经被相当的主流思想家所认可。随着特别报道引起争议时,智能系统将会改变效率也可能帮助解决许多环境方面的问题,特别是全球变暖。然而如果这些系统严重侵犯了人们的自由的话,许多人将会停滞不前。贝克尔斯菲市(美国加利福尼亚州中南部城市)的抗议者反对智能电表,还有其他地方的抗议活动或许才刚刚开始。

Smart systems are rekindling old fears. Top of the list are loss of privacy and government surveillance. Internet users have only recently begun to realise that every single thing they do online leaves a digital trace. With smart systems the same thing will increasingly apply to the offline world; Google’s Street View is only the beginning.

智能系统正在重新唤起人们心中恐惧。首当其冲的便是个人隐私的暴露以及政府的监督。网友已经开始认识到他们在网上所做的任何一件事都会留下数字痕迹。有了智能系统,同样的,与世界脱轨也会急剧增加;谷歌Street View 也仅仅是个开始。

Even the champions of a smarter planet admit as much. “Some citizens have expressed discomfort at living in not a safer society but a ‘surveillance society’,” said Sam Palmisano, the boss of IBM, in a speech earlier this year. He cited a newspaper article recounting that there are now 32 closed-circuit cameras within 200 yards of the London flat in which George Orwell wrote his book “1984”.

甚至连智慧地球的守护者承认。“一些市民已经表示生活在一个不仅没有安全感而且‘备受监督’的社会很不爽,”IBM老版萨姆·帕尔米萨诺在今年得早期演讲中提到。他引用了一片报纸的文章,该文重新计算了目前在伦敦200码之内就有32个电子眼,而这些在乔治·奥威尔写的一本书《1984》里。

Hopes and fears

希望与恐惧

 

Mr Palmisano would be in the wrong job, however, had he not gone on to say that such concerns have to be rethought and to stress the economic and social benefits of smart systems. Others point out less obvious advantages. “All this technology actually strengthens the human side of cities,” says Carlo Ratti, director of MIT’s SENSEable City Lab. People who are always connected, he argues, can work wherever they like. And Mr Haque, the boss of Pachube, claims that “sensors empower people because measuring the environment allows them to make decisions in real time.”

帕尔米萨诺可能从事一个错误的工作,然而,他没有继续说出这些忧虑应该被从新考虑以及强调智能系统对经济和社会的益处。还有人指出益处不是很明显。“所有的科学技术事实上城市更加人性化,”麻省理工学院Senseable City实验室负责人卡洛•拉蒂表示,他辩论说,这可以让我们在任何喜欢地方都能工作。以及Pachube老板哈克,也宣称“传感器使人类更强了因为环境测量允许他们作出实时决定。”

 

On the other hand smart systems are also undeniably useful as an instrument of control. Singapore has made an impressive job of smartening up its physical infrastructure, but its network of security cameras could also be used for enforcing rules more objectionable than a ban on chewing gum. Similarly, the operations centres and dashboards for local governments in China being built by Cisco, IBM and others beg the question whether their only purpose is to make these cities smarter.

 

 

另一方面智能系统作为控制手段也不可否认着实有用。新加坡在美化基础设施上,给人们留下了深刻的印象,但是它的安全摄像头网络也可能被用来执行规定,这比禁止咀嚼口香糖还要令人讨厌。类似的,中国地方政府的运营中心和仪表盘正在被思科系统公司、IBM制造,而其他人却回避问题的实质,那就是他们的唯一动机是为了让我们的城市更加人性化吗?

 

Other deep fears brought on by smart systems is that machines could be hacked, spin out of control and even take over the world, as they did in the film “The Matrix”. As the Stuxnet worm and the May “flash crash” on Wall Street have shown, the first two are already real possibilities, even if the third still seems somewhat remote—although well-known computer scientists, artificial-intelligence researchers and roboticists met in California a couple of years ago to discuss that risk.

智能系统带来的其他可怕的恐惧就是计算机可能被黑了,或者失控甚至是统治了世界,而这些在电影“黑客帝国”中表现出来了。当Stuxnet蠕虫以及五月份在华尔街上演的“闪电崩溃”都说明了,首先这两种恐惧都是有真实可能性,尽管第三个忧虑似乎有点遥远——然而就在几年前著名的计算机科学家,人工智能研究人员以及机器人研究者齐聚加利福尼亚州讨论了这种危险。

 

And there is a more subtle danger too: that people will come to rely too much on smart systems. Because humans cannot cope with the huge amounts of data produced by machines, the machines themselves will increasingly make the decisions, cautions Frank Schirrmacher of the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in his recent book “Payback”. Similarly, Nicholas Carr, an American commentator on the digital revolution, in his book “The Shallows” claims that the internet, the mother of all smart systems, is on its way to smothering creativity and profound thinking.

还有一种更为微妙的危险:那就是人们将会过多的依赖智能系统。因为人类不能处理由计算机产生的大量的数据,而计算机他们自己将会慢慢(帮助我们)做出选择,德国日报的《法兰克福广讯报》弗兰克·施尔玛赫在他最近的一本书《Payback》中警告。同样,一位美国数字改革的时事评论员尼古拉斯·卡尔,在他的书《The Shallows》声称,作为所有智能系统的祖先,因特网正处在创新以及更深层思考的过程。

 

A further worry is that smart technology will ultimately lead to greater inequality—and not just because it could create an “information priesthood”, in the words of Mr Gelernter. Paul Saffo, a noted Silicon Valley technology forecaster, expects ubiquitous sensors to give a huge boost to productivity—at the expense of human monitors. “We are likely to see more jobless recoveries,” he says.

另外还有人担心,智能技术将会最终导致最大的不平衡——不仅仅是这个因为用他的话说葛伦特,智能系统可能会创造出一个“信息神父”。保罗·萨弗是一位著名的硅谷科学技术预测家,他希望无处不在的传感器能够极大地促进生产力的发展——以人类监测为代价。“我们可能喜欢看到有更多的工作恢复,”他说。

 

Whether computers will indeed start to eliminate more jobs than they create remains to be seen. But smart systems certainly represent a conceptual change. So far IT has been used to automate and optimise processes within firms and other organisations as well as the dealings between them. Now it will increasingly be used to automate and optimise interactions with the physical environment.

当然计算机将来是否是减少的工作岗位比他们创造的要多,这个问题拭目以待。但是智能系统确实阐述了一种概念上的变革。到目前为止IT已经被公司以及其他组织用来自动化以及优化过程,还有处理二者之间的问题。现在它也逐渐被用运用于自动化和优化并与物质环境配合使用。

 

Some of the concerns raised will be hard to deal with. For instance, there would be little point in passing laws that would give individuals the right to decide whether their data can be used by smart systems if cameras and other sensors are already ubiquitous. And building in circuit-breakers to keep automation from going too far could defeat the purpose of smart systems and stifle innovation.

居高不下的忧虑将会难以处理。例如,并没有通过相关法律——赋予个人权利去决定如果摄像机和其他传感器设备已经普遍存在的化,他们的数据是否可以被智能系统使用。还有就是建立起阻止自动控制走的太远的短路系统,这样可以击败智能系统的目的以及扼杀其创新。

 

Still, technological progress is not some force of nature that cannot be guided. “We can and we should exercise control—by democratic consensus,” says Mr Gelernter. Yet for a consensus to be reached, there must be openness. The biggest risk is that smart systems become black boxes, closed even to citizens who have the skills to understand them. Smart systems will make the world more transparent only if they themselves are transparent.

不过,科学进步不是某种不可控制自然力量。“我们可以也应该实行控制——达成民主共识,”葛伦特说。然而为了达成一致,就必须敞开心胸。最大的危险便是智能系统变成黑匣子,却对那些不了解他们的公众封闭。智能系统将会使世界更加透明清晰,尽管他们本身就是透明的。

 

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