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更新时间:2017-12-28 19:42:30 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The Robots Are Coming,and Sweden Is Fine

GARPENBERG, Sweden — From inside the control room carved into the rock more than half a mile underground, Mika Persson can see the robots on the march, supposedly coming for his job here at the New Boliden mine.

瑞典加尔彭贝里——从离地面逾半英里(约合800米)的岩石中凿出来的控制室里,米卡·佩尔松(Mika Persson)能看到机器人正在行进。它们据说是来取代他在新博利登矿(New Boliden)的工作。

He’s fine with it.


Sweden’s famously generous social welfare system makes this a place not prone to fretting about automation — or much else, for that matter.


Mr. Persson, 35, sits in front of four computer screens, one displaying the loader he steers as it lifts freshly blasted rock containing silver, zinc and lead. If he were down in the mine shaft operating the loader manually, he would be inhaling dust and exhaust fumes. Instead, he reclines in an office chair while using a joystick to control the machine.


He is cognizant that robots are evolving by the day. Boliden is testing self-driving vehicles to replace truck drivers. But Mr. Persson assumes people will always be needed to keep the machines running. He has faith in the Swedish economic model and its protections against the torment of joblessness.


“I’m not really worried,” he says. “There are so many jobs in this mine that even if this job disappears, they will have another one. The company will take care of us.”


In much of the world, people whose livelihoods depend on paychecks are increasingly anxious about a potential wave of unemployment threatened by automation. As the frightening tale goes, globalization forced people in wealthier lands like North America and Europe to compete directly with cheaper laborers in Asia and Latin America, sowing joblessness. Now, the robots are coming to finish off the humans.


But such talk has little currency in Sweden or its Scandinavian neighbors, where unions are powerful, government support is abundant, and trust between employers and employees runs deep. Here, robots are just another way to make companies more efficient. As employers prosper, workers have consistently gained a proportionate slice of the spoils — a stark contrast to the United States and Britain, where wages have stagnated even while corporate profits have soared.


“In Sweden, if you ask a union leader, ‘Are you afraid of new technology?’ they will answer, ‘No, I’m afraid of old technology,’” says the Swedish minister for employment and integration, Ylva Johansson. “The jobs disappear, and then we train people for new jobs. We won’t protect jobs. But we will protect workers.”

“在瑞典,如果问工会领袖,‘你害怕新技术吗?’,他们会回答说,‘不怕,我害怕老技术,’”瑞典负责就业和一体化的大臣于尔娃·约翰松(Ylva Johansson)说。“工作岗位消失,然后我们会培训劳动者从事新岗位。我们不会保护工作岗位。但我们会保护劳动者。”

Americans tend to dismiss Nordic countries as a realm of nanny-state-worshiping socialists in contrast to the swashbuckling capitalists who rule in places like Silicon Valley. But Sweden presents the possibility that, in an age of automation, innovation may be best advanced by maintaining ample cushions against failure.


“A good safety net is good for entrepreneurship,” says Carl Melin, policy director at Futurion, a research institution in Stockholm. “If a project doesn’t succeed, you don’t have to go broke.”

“完善的安全保障系统有利于创业,”设在斯德哥尔摩的研究机构Futurion的政策主任卡尔·梅林(Carl Melin)说。“如果项目不成功,你也不用破产。”

Eighty percent of Swedes express positive views about robots and artificial intelligence, according to a survey this year by the European Commission. By contrast, a survey by the Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of Americans were “worried” about a future in which robots and computers substitute for humans.

欧盟委员会(European Commission)今年进行的一项调查显示,80%的瑞典人对机器人和人工智能持乐观态度。相比之下,皮尤研究中心(Pew Research Center)的一项调查发现,72%的美国人对机器人和电脑代替人类的未来感到“担忧”。

In the United States, where most people depend on employers for health insurance, losing a job can trigger a descent to catastrophic depths. It makes workers reluctant to leave jobs to forge potentially more lucrative careers. It makes unions inclined to protect jobs above all else.


Yet in Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia, governments provide health care along with free education. They pay generous unemployment benefits, while employers finance extensive job training programs. Unions generally embrace automation as a competitive advantage that makes jobs more secure.


Making the United States more like Scandinavia would entail costs that collide with the tax-cutting fervor that has dominated American politics in recent decades.


Sweden, Denmark and Finland all spend more than 27 percent of their annual economic output on government services to help jobless people and other vulnerable groups, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The United States devotes less than 20 percent of its economy to such programs.

来自经济合作与发展组织(Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development)的数据显示,瑞典、丹麦和芬兰在帮助失业人员和其他弱势群体的政府服务上的支出,均超过年度经济产出的27%。而美国在这类项目上的投入不到经济产出的20%。

For Swedish businesses, these outlays yield a key dividend: Employees have proved receptive to absorbing new technology.


“If we don’t move forward with the technology and making money, well, then we are out of business,” says Magnus Westerlund, 35, vice chairman of a local union chapter representing laborers at two Boliden mines. “You don’t need a degree in math to do the calculation.”

“如果我们不推进科技进步赚钱,那么,我们就要歇业了,”35岁的马格努斯·韦斯特隆德(Magnus Westerlund)说,他是当地代表着两个博利登矿场劳工工会的副主席。“你不需要数学学位就能算出来。”

At the mine below the frigid pine forests in Garpenberg, 110 miles northwest of Stockholm, Mr. Persson and his co-workers earn about 500,000 krona per year (nearly $60,000). They get five weeks of vacation. Under Swedish law, when a child arrives, the parents have 480 days of family leave to apportion between them. No robot is going to change any of that, Mr. Persson says.


“It’s a Swedish kind of thinking,” says Erik Lundstrom, a 41-year-old father of two who works alongside Mr. Persson. “If you do something for the company, the company gives something back.”

“这是瑞典的思维逻辑,”41岁的埃里克·伦德斯特伦斯(Erik Lundstrom)说,他是两个孩子的父亲,与佩尔松一起工作。“如果你为公司做了事,公司也要回报你点儿东西。”

That proposition now confronts a formidable test. No one knows how many jobs are threatened by robots and other forms of automation, but projections suggest a potential shock.


A 2016 study by the World Economic Forum surveyed 15 major economies that collectively hold two-thirds of the global work force — about 1.86 billion workers — concluding that the rise of robots and artificial intelligence will destroy a net 5.1 million jobs by 2020.

2016年,世界经济论坛(World Economic Forum)对15个国家进行了问卷调查,这些国家共计占全球劳动力——约18.6亿工人——的三分之二,并且得出结论,认为机器人和人工智能的崛起将在2020年毁掉510万个工作岗位。

A pair of Oxford University researchers concluded that nearly half of all American jobs could be replaced by robots and other forms of automation over the next two decades.

两位牛津大学(Oxford University)的研究人员认为,美国所有工作岗位近半数都可以在未来20年,被机器人及其他形式的自动化代替。

When automated teller machines first landed at bank branches in the late 1960s, some foresaw the extinction of humans working in banks. But employment swelled as banks invested the savings into new areas like mortgage lending and insurance. Similar trends may play out again.


Yet even if robots create more jobs than they eliminate, large numbers of people are going to need to pursue new careers.


Sweden and its Nordic brethren have proved successful at managing such transitions. So-called job security councils financed by employers help people who lose jobs find new ones.


Maintaining Sweden’s social safety net also requires that the public continue to pay tax rates approaching 60 percent. Yet as Sweden absorbs large numbers of immigrants from conflict-torn nations, that support may wane. Many lack education and may be difficult to employ. If large numbers wind up depending on government largess, a backlash could result.


“There’s a risk that the social contract could crack,” said Marten Blix, an economist at the Research Institute of Industrial Economics in Stockholm.

“存在社会契约破裂的风险,”斯德哥尔摩工业经济研究所(Industrial Economics)的经济学家马滕·布利克斯(Marten Blix)说。

For now, the social compact endures, and at the Boliden mine, a sense of calm prevails.