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机器人乌托邦:不用劳动,坐领工资?

更新时间:2016-3-4 10:00:46 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

A Plan in Case Robots Take the Jobs: Give Everyone a Paycheck
机器人乌托邦:不用劳动,坐领工资?

Let’s say computers come for most of our jobs. This may not seem likely at the moment; computer scientists and economists offer wildly varying ideas for how deeply automation will affect future employment.

让我们假设,计算机会取代我们大多数的岗位。这看起来可能不像当下会发生的事;对于自动化会在多大程度上影响未来的职场,计算机科学家和经济学家都提出了各种不同的大胆设想。

But for the sake of argument, imagine that within two or three decades we’ll have morphed into the Robotic States of America.

但为了便于讨论,这里权且假设,在接下来的二三十年里,我们将逐渐演变为美利坚机器人国。

In Robot America, most manual laborers will have been replaced by herculean bots. Truck drivers, cabbies, delivery workers and airline pilots will have been superseded by vehicles that do it all. Doctors, lawyers, business executives and even technology columnists for The New York Times will have seen their ranks thinned by charming, attractive, all-knowing algorithms.

在机器人美国,大多数体力劳动者将被力大无比的机器人替代。卡车和出租车司机、快递员及航空公司飞行员,都将被全能的自动驾驶运载工具取代。医生、律师、企业管理人员,乃至《纽约时报》的科技专栏作者的地位,也会因无所不知、魅力无限的算法的出现而被削弱。

How will society function after humanity has been made redundant? Technologists and economists have been grappling with this fear for decades, but in the last few years, one idea has gained widespread interest — including from some of the very technologists who are now building the bot-ruled future.

当人类成为一种多余的存在,社会将会如何运转?技术专家和经济学家已经和这种担忧斗争了几十年,但在过去几年,有一种观念引起了人们普遍的兴趣,包括一些正在建设由机器人主宰的未来的技术专家们。

Their plan is known as “universal basic income,” or U.B.I., and it goes like this: As the jobs dry up because of the spread of artificial intelligence, why not just give everyone a paycheck?

这项计划称为“全民基本收入”(Universal Basic Income,简称UBI),其核心点如下:既然工作机会因人工智能的普及而日益减少,干嘛不直接给每个人发一份薪酬?

Imagine the government sending each adult about $1,000 a month, about enough to cover housing, food, health care and other basic needs for many Americans. U.B.I. would be aimed at easing the dislocation caused by technological progress, but it would also be bigger than that.

想象一下,政府给每个成年人每月发放大约1000美元。这些钱基本足够大多数美国人支付住房、食物、医疗和其他基本需求方面的开支。UBI的目标是缓解由技术进步引发的错位,但它又不止于此。

While U.B.I. has been associated with left-leaning academics, feminists and other progressive activists, it has lately been adopted by a wider range of thinkers, including some libertarians and conservatives. It has also gained support among a cadre of venture capitalists in New York and Silicon Valley, the people most familiar with the potential for technology to alter modern work.

尽管UBI一直被认为和左倾的学术界人士、女权主义者和其他进步派活动人士有关,但它最近被范围更广的思想人士所采纳,包括一些自由意志论者和保守派。它还得到了纽约和硅谷一拨风险投资人的支持,而这些人最清楚技术改变未来工作状况的潜力有多大。

Rather than a job-killing catastrophe, tech supporters of U.B.I. consider machine intelligence to be something like a natural bounty for society: The country has struck oil, and now it can hand out checks to each of its citizens.

认同UBI的科技业支持者觉得,与其把人工智能看作一场扼杀人类工作机会的灾难,不如把它看作赐予这个社会的馈赠:这个国家行了大运,现在它可以给每个公民分发支票了。

These supporters argue machine intelligence will produce so much economic surplus that we could collectively afford to liberate much of humanity from both labor and suffering.

这些支持者认为,机器智能将实现非常之多的经济盈余,乃至我们在整体上能让大部分人类免于劳作和受苦。

The most idealistic thinkers see the plan as a way to foster the sort of quasi-utopian future we’ve only encountered in science fiction universes like that of “Star Trek.” As computers perform more of our work, we’d all be free to become artists, scholars, entrepreneurs or otherwise engage our passions in a society no longer centered on the drudgery of daily labor.

最为理想主义的思考者将这个计划看作一种手段,认为它可以帮我们实现只在《星际迷航》(Star Trek)等科幻小说领域见识过的类似乌托邦的未来。当计算机包揽了更多工作,我们就都自由了,可以随自己的意愿做艺术家、学者和创业者,或以其他方式将我们的激情投入到这个不再围绕繁重无聊的日常劳作运转的社会。

“We’re talking about divorcing your basic needs from the need to work,” said Albert Wenger, a venture capitalist at Union Square Ventures, a proponent who is working on a book about U.B.I. “For a couple hundred years, we’ve constructed our entire world around the need to work. Now we’re talking about more than just a tweak to the economy — it’s as foundational a departure as when we went from an agrarian society to an industrial one.”

“我们说的是,让工作的需要和人们的基本需求不再紧密相连,”合广投资(Union Square Ventures)风投人艾伯特·文格尔(Albert Wenger)说。他是UBI的倡导者之一,正在撰写一本有关的著作。“几百年来,我们的整个世界都是围绕着工作的需要建造起来的。现在我们要讨论的不是经济上的微调,而是像从农业社会进入工业社会那么大的根本性转变。”

Sam Altman, president of the tech incubator Y Combinator, recently proposed to fund research into U.B.I. The firm has received thousands of applications for research funding, Mr. Altman said; it plans to select winning recipients within a few weeks, and ultimately Y Combinator plans to spend “tens of millions” of dollars on research to answer some of the most basic questions about life under U.B.I.

孵化技术创业公司的Y Combinator公司总裁萨姆·奥尔特曼(Sam Altman)最近打算给针对UBI的研究提供一些资助。奥尔特曼表示,公司已经收到数千份研究资金申请;它计划在几周内筛选出最终获得该项目资金的人选。Y Combinator计划在这项研究上总共投入“数以千万计”的美元,它们将为在UBI之下生活的一些最基本的问题寻找答案。

Mr. Altman said these questions range from the most practical — how much U.B.I. would cost the country, and whether we could afford it — to deeper issues concerning people’s motivation and purpose in what you might call a “postwork” age.

奥尔特曼还表示,这些问题范围很广,从最为实际的UBI需要国家花费多少资金,我们能否负担得起,到更为深刻的有关人们在“后工作”时代生活动力和目标的担忧。

When you give everyone free money, what do people do with their time? Do they goof off, or do they try to pursue more meaningful pursuits? Do they become more entrepreneurial? How would U.B.I. affect economic inequality? How would it alter people’s psychology and mood? Do we, as a species, need to be employed to feel fulfilled, or is that merely a legacy of postindustrial capitalism?

当每个人都可以不用工作就获得收入,他们会如何打发自己的时间?他们会虚度时光,还是努力追求更有意义的东西?他们会更有创业的欲望吗?UBI会对经济不平等产生什么影响?它会如何改变人们的心理和情绪?作为一个物种,我们是需要被受雇做事才能感觉充实,还是说那只是后工业化资本主义遗留的习惯?

There is an urgency to the techies’ interest in U.B.I. They argue that machine intelligence reached an inflection point in the last couple of years, and that technological progress now looks destined to change how most of the world works.

科技人士对于UBI的兴趣包含着一种紧迫性。他们认为,人工智能在过去几十年达到了一个拐点,觉得现在看起来,技术进步注定会改变这个世界大多数领域的运转方式。

“People have been predicting that jobs would go away for a long time, and usually what happens is they just change,” Mr. Altman said. But even so, “during those periods of change, things can be quite disruptive,” and at the very least, U.B.I. may be able to smooth out the transition period.

“人们预测工作会消失已经有很长时间了,现实往往是,它们只是发生了改变,”奥尔特曼说。但即便如此,“在改变发生的时期,情况可能会非常混乱,”而UBI至少能让这个转型阶段更平稳地过去。

We may already be seeing the disruptions. Though the macroeconomic statistics suggest the United States has recovered from the last recession — job growth in 2015 reached levels not seen since the 1990s — surveys show that many Americans feel vulnerable and anxious about their jobs and finances.

我们可能已经看到了一些这样的扰乱。尽管宏观数据显示,美国已经从最近的一次经济衰退中恢复——2015年工作机会增长幅度达到自1990年代以来不曾有过的程度——但有调查问卷显示,很多美国人觉得自己的工作和财务状况并不稳固,并为此感到焦虑。

A cynic might see the interest of venture capitalists in U.B.I. as a way for them to atone for their complicity in the tech that might lead to permanent changes in the global economy. After all, here are rich people who both actively fund and benefit from creating highly profitable companies that employ very few people.

多疑的人可能会认为,风险投资者对于UBI的兴趣,只是因为他们在科技业中参与了一场可能永远改变全球经济的运动,如今他们想要做出一些弥补。毕竟,在创建利润丰厚、雇员极少的企业方面,这些富人既进行了积极的投资,也从中大量获利。

But my conversations with techies interested in U.B.I. revealed a sincerity and sophistication about the idea. They aren’t ashamed or afraid of automation, and they don’t see U.B.I. merely as a defense of the current social order. Instead they see automation and U.B.I. as the most optimistic path toward wider social progress.

但经过和一些对UBI感兴趣的科技业人士的交谈,我发现他们对这种理念的态度是真挚而成熟的。他们并不以自动化为耻,也不惧怕它,他们不认为UBI只是当下社会秩序的一种防御。在他们看来,自动化和UBI是最有希望取得更广泛社会进步的一条路。

“I think it’s a bad use of a human to spend 20 years of their life driving a truck back and forth across the United States,” Mr. Wenger said. “That’s not what we aspire to do as humans — it’s a bad use of a human brain — and automation and basic income is a development that will free us to do lots of incredible things that are more aligned with what it means to be human.”

“我认为让一个人花20年时间开卡车,在美国各地来回跑,是在耽误一个生命,”文格尔说。“那不是我们作为人类所追求的——它没有恰当利用人的大脑——自动化和UBI是一种进步,可以让我们解脱出来,去做很多不可思议的事,去做更符合人类这一身份的事。”

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