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广州机械翻译公司:科技创新能否化解气候变化难题?

作者: 来源: 日期:2016/8/8 8:29:34

Relax about robots, worry about climate change

科技创新能否化解气候变化难题?

 

广州机械翻译公司:不能坐等科技把世界从气候变化问题中拯救出来,因为太阳能、风能、电池等技术并没有以指数级速度发展的可能性。

 

An oddity about the gangs of robot labourers that are supposedly about to take our jobs, leaving humanity to watch daytime TV and survive off a universal basic income, is that people who make robots for a living tend to talk them down.

据说机器人劳动大军将夺走我们的工作,让人类在白天看着电视,靠着全民基本收入过活。但有关机器人的怪异之处在于,那些以生产机器人为生的人往往会淡化机器人的发展。广州机械翻译公司。

 

Junji Tsuda should know. His company, Yaskawa Electric, sells $3bn worth of robots a year to car factories. “The robot brain is developing incredibly fast. The biggest problem is the hands that do the work,” he said last year. “They’re not going to develop on an exponential curve, like computers. It’s going to be linear, steady growth.”

津田纯嗣(Junji Tsuda)应该了解。他的公司安川电机(Yaskawa Electric)每年向汽车厂家销售价值30亿美元的机器人。“机器人大脑正以令人难以置信的速度快速发展。最大的问题是执行工作的手,”他去年表示,“手的发展不会像电脑一样呈指数曲线,而将是线性和稳步的。”

 

These android dreams reflect a mistaken belief that “technology” advances rapidly, and so any and all technological problems will find their solution in a reasonable span of time. Robots exist; technology is developing fast; therefore robots will soon take over the world.

这些机器人梦反映出一种错误的观念:“技术”快速发展,因此所有技术问题都会在合理时间内找到解决方案。机器人存在;技术正快速发展;因此机器人将很快占领世界。

 

This logic is wrong. In fact, different technologies advance at different speeds and for different reasons, linked to the physical reality of the way they work. Misunderstanding this leads to bad economic policy, unwise investments and, not least, complacency about how to deal with climate change.

这种逻辑是错误的。实际上,不同的技术是按照不同的速度且出于不同的原因发展的,与它们工作方式的实际现实相关。误解这点会导致糟糕的经济政策、不明智的投资,尤其是会导致有关如何应对气候变化的自满。广州机械翻译公司。

 

True breakthroughs — moments of wonder such as the discovery of graphene in 2004 — are impossible to predict. But the advance of existing technologies can proceed steadily enough to spawn “laws”. Moore’s law is the most famous: the number of transistors on a computer chip, and therefore computing power, doubles every two years. There are similar rules for other technologies.

真正的突破(就像2004年发现石墨烯那种奇迹时刻)是不可能预测的。但现有技术的稳步发展足以产生“定律”。摩尔定律(Moores law)就是最著名的一个:电脑芯片上的晶体管数量以及运算能力每两年增加一倍。其他技术也有类似的定律。

 

Take batteries as an example of how the pace of progress can vary. The energy stored per gram of battery has been improving by an average of 4 per cent a year for more than a century. By contrast, the number of transistors per computer chip has risen by 38 per cent a year for the past four decades or so, consistent with Moore’s law.

要说明技术发展的速度有多么不一样,以电池为例吧。一个多世纪以来,每克电池存储的电量平均每年增加4%。相比之下,过去40年左右,每块电脑芯片的晶体管数量每年增加38%,这与摩尔定律相符。

 

The management scientist Jeffrey Funk sets out some underlying mechanisms for these advances. Certain technologies rely on developing new materials; some on steadily scaling up a device, and others on steadily reducing the size of a device. In each case there are sharply different implications for how fast the technology will advance.

管理学家杰弗里•芬克(Jeffrey Funk)为技术的发展概括了一些基本机制。一些技术依赖新材料的开发;一些依赖于稳步扩大某种设备的尺寸,还有一些依赖于稳步缩小某种设备的尺寸。在所有情况下,这些机制对于技术以多快速度发展有着截然不同的影响。广州机械翻译公司。

 

Batteries belong in the first class. They look today much like they did a century ago but the material used has changed, slowly, from lead to nickel to lithium. This is a reason to question the future of electric cars and keep open the option of developing fuel cells instead.

电池属于第一类。它们的外观与100年前没有什么不同,但它们使用的材料慢慢发生了变化,从铅到镍再到锂。因此有理由质疑电动汽车的未来,并对开发燃料电池持开放态度。

 

Robots are systems rather than technologies but their physical aspects are similar to batteries in the sense that progress is not a matter of scaling. A robotic arm needs to be of a certain size. These technologies can only advance by getting better, not larger or smaller.

机器人是系统,而非技术,但它们的实体方面与电池类似,因为它们的发展不是尺寸问题。机器人手臂必须是某种特定尺寸。这些技术只能通过变得更出色而向前发展,而不是通过尺寸变大或变小。

 

A second class of technologies gets better as they get bigger. The cost of a pipe depends on its radius but the amount able to pass through it depends on the radius squared, so chemical plants grow more efficient with increased scale. Passenger jets — basically big metal tubes — work the same way. Hence the 555-seat Airbus A380.

第二类技术的进步在于尺寸变大。管道的成本取决于其半径大小,但管道的输送量取决于半径的平方,因此规模越大,化学工厂越有效率。客机(本质上是个大型金属管)也是一样的道理。因此出现了555个座位的空客(Airbus) A380。广州机械翻译公司。

 

Wind turbines perform better at a bigger scale. Rather than struggle to build a lot of small ones on land, it may make more sense to invest in developing larger models and build them at sea.

风力涡轮越大其效率越高。与努力在陆地上建造很多小型风力涡轮相比,投资于开发更大的型号以及建在海上可能更合理。

 

The third class of technology — computer chips, optical data storage or the technology underlying genome sequencing, for example — improves as it gets smaller. Put simply, if you can halve the height, width and depth of an object then you can fit eight times as many of them in the same space.

第三种技术(例如电脑芯片、光数据存储或基因组测序技术)的进步在于尺寸缩小。简单来说,如果你可以把一个物体的长宽高缩小一半,那么你在同样空间里可放置的物体数量就是原来的8倍。

 

Technologies linked to computing, such as artificial intelligence, have the greatest potential for rapid advance. It is easier to imagine driverless cars routinely on the roads in the near future — largely a computing challenge — than it is to imagine robots on the pavement next to them. Computers may displace a lot of drivers but it will be harder for robots to displace the postal workers.

与计算相关的技术(例如人工智能)快速发展的潜力最大。设想无人驾驶汽车在不久的将来经常出现在公路上(主要是一项计算挑战)更容易,设想机器人行走在人行道上则更难。电脑可能会取代很多司机,但机器人要取代邮政工人却较为困难。广州机械翻译公司。

 

One lesson, then, is that we need to calm down about androids. But the big lesson, at policy level, is that we cannot sit and wait for innovation to save us from climate change. Relevant technologies such as solar, wind and, especially, batteries do not have the potential for exponential advance. Rather, we need to invest in new ideas while using carbon taxes to force less efficient green technologies into use now.

那么一个教训是我们需要冷静对待机器人。但从政策层面来看,重要的教训是,我们不能坐等创新把我们从气候变化中拯救出来。太阳能、风能、尤其是电池等相关技术没有以指数级速度发展的可能性。我们需要投资于新的创意,同时利用碳税迫使效率较低的环保技术现在投入使用。

 

Imagining new technologies — as Philip K Dick did in his 1968 novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (filmed as Blade Runner) — is a part of inventing them. Pinning our hopes on a sudden leap in the technologies we know is more likely to deliver the post-apocalyptic world in which that story is set.

想象新技术是发明新技术的一部分。菲利普•迪克(Philip K. Dick)在他1968年的小说《机器人会梦见电子羊吗?》(Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep)便想象了新技术,该小说被改编成电影《银翼杀手》(Blade Runner)。如果把希望寄托在已知技术的突然飞跃上,更可能的结果是导致小说设定的那种后末日世界。

 

The writer is the FT’s Tokyo bureau chief

本文作者是英国《金融时报》东京记者站站长

 

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