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Driverless cars may kill off the world’s deadliest invention

来源:FT中文网    2017-11-30 07:36

        We often make lists of the best inventions of all time. But which are the worst?        我们经常会列出有史以来最优秀的发明。但最糟糕的发明是哪些呢?
        The nuclear bomb would be up there. The AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifle also has a particular claim to infamy. The World Bank has estimated that there are about 75m such guns in circulation, causing tens of thousands of deaths a year.        核弹将是其中之一。AK-47卡拉什尼科夫(Kalashnikov)突击步枪也可以排在榜单前列。世界银行(World Bank)估计,现在大约有7500万支这样的枪支在流通,每年造成数万人死亡。
        But one other invention has killed many, many times more people than both of those weapons put together: the motor car.        但另外有一种发明导致人类死亡的总数要比这两种武器加起来还要多得多:汽车。
        About 1.25m people are killed in road traffic accidents a year, accounting for 2.2 per cent of all deaths globally, according to the World Health Organization. Accurate data on how many people in total have been killed by cars in the past century are hard to find. But 50m seems a fair guess. That compares with the 123m in all wars in the 20th century.        根据世界卫生组织(WHO)的数据,每年约有125万人死于道路交通事故,占全球死亡总数的2.2%。我们很难找到有关过去100年有多少人死于汽车的准确数据。但5000万似乎是个合理的猜测。作为比较,20世纪所有战争加在一起导致的死亡人数为1.23亿人。
        If that level of carnage were not bad enough, cars have also contributed massively to environmental pollution and adverse climate change. As an additional malus, the car’s thirst for oil has handed billions of dollars in revenues to some of the world’s most regressive regimes: Saudi Arabia, Russia and Venezuela.        如果这种死亡水平还不够糟糕的话,汽车还极大地加剧了环境污染和不利的气候变化。还有一个弊端是,汽车对燃油的需求让世界上一些最差的政权——沙特阿拉伯、俄罗斯和委内瑞拉——轻松获得巨额财政收入。
        Fortunately, the end of the human-driven, petrol-fuelled car may be in sight. Some computer scientists describe driverless car technology as essentially a “solved problem”, even if huge challenges remain before car companies are confident enough to launch fully autonomous passenger vehicles on to the road. Protocols still need to be worked out to determine how one driverless car will interact with another and how to prevent hacking.        幸运的是,由人类驾驶、汽油驱动的汽车的末日可能近在眼前。一些电脑科学家把自动驾驶汽车技术称为一个基本上“已解决的问题”,即便在汽车企业有足够自信让完全自动驾驶的乘用车上路之前还存在巨大挑战。需要制定规则,确定无人驾驶汽车之间如何互动,以及如何阻止黑客入侵。
        But human, rather than technological, resistance seems likelier to be the biggest brake on the driverless car revolution. Whether we are behind the wheel or thinking about new technologies, humans remain inherently erratic.        但人为(而非技术)阻力似乎更有可能成为自动驾驶汽车革命的最大掣肘。无论我们是在开车还是思考新技术,人类在本质上仍是怪异的。
        For the moment, governments are putting in place regulations to encourage the adoption of driverless, electric cars and manufacturers are experimenting fast.        就眼下而言,政府正在制定监管规定,鼓励研发自动驾驶汽车和电动汽车,而制造商正在快速实验。
        Last week, Philip Hammond, the British chancellor, said he wanted the UK to be one of the first countries to allow “genuine driverless cars” on its roads by 2021 (although he did not want to be photographed in one for fear of embarrassing political metaphors about the state of the British government).        上周,英国财政大臣菲利普•哈蒙德(Philip Hammond)表示,他希望英国成为首批允许“真正的无人驾驶汽车”到2021年上路的国家之一(尽管他不愿坐上一辆无人驾驶汽车拍照,担心被当作讽刺英国政府现状的难堪的政治隐喻。)
        Car companies are gearing up to deliver. Uber announced last week that it would buy up to 24,000 Volvo cars by 2021 to prepare a fleet of fully autonomous, on-demand passenger vehicles.        汽车公司正在作出响应。优步(Uber)上周宣布,将在2021年前购买多达2.4万辆沃尔沃(Volvo)汽车,以组建一个完全自主的、随选即行的乘用车车队。
        One of the biggest risks is that governments and car companies will rush into allowing poorly tested autonomous vehicles on to our roads prematurely, triggering a public backlash. No matter how good the technology becomes, autonomous cars are still going to kill people. “The assumption that you can go from 1m [road deaths] to zero is very naive,” says one tech executive.        最大的风险之一是,政府和汽车制造商将仓促允许未经充分测试的自动驾驶汽车过早上路,从而引发公众反弹。不管这项技术变得多么完善,自动驾驶汽车仍会致人死亡。一名科技公司高管表示:“以为你可以把(交通死亡人数)从100万降至零是非常幼稚的。”
        Proving that autonomous cars are demonstrably safer than human-driven cars is therefore going to be a tough battle of statistics and public perception. The first death caused by a driverless car is certain to turn the likes of Jeremy Clarkson into a beetroot-faced, “told-you-so” motormouth.        因此,证明自动驾驶汽车明显比人类驾驶汽车更安全,将是统计学家和公众认知之间的艰苦斗争。自动驾驶汽车带来的首例死亡,肯定让杰罗米•克拉克森(Jeremy Clarkson)这样的名嘴兴奋地围绕“我早就告诉过你会这样”的主题喋喋不休。
        The TV car show presenter has already shouted his doubts about the reliability of autonomous driving technology, challenging its promoters to sit in one of their cars as it drives down Death Road in Bolivia.        这位电视汽车节目主持人已表达过他对自动驾驶技术可靠性的疑问,他向这项技术的推介者发起挑战,问他们敢不敢坐上自己在吹嘘的自动驾驶汽车,在玻利维亚的“死亡之路”(Death Road)上行驶。
        But he is right that motorists have an extraordinary attachment to their cars. The car has brought enormous mobility, liberty and enjoyment to millions of people. A huge number of jobs, investments and corporate interests are also dependent on the current model of car transport, no matter how dangerous it may be. For those reasons, some transport experts doubt whether the driverless car revolution will ever happen.        但他说的话有一点是正确的,那就是驾车者对自己的汽车有着异乎寻常的依恋。汽车为数以百万计的人带来了巨大的流动性、自由和享受。大量就业、投资和公司利益也依赖于当前的汽车交通模式——不管它可能有多危险。出于这些原因,一些交通专家对于自动驾驶汽车革命是否会来临表示怀疑。
        At the other extreme are those, like the technology think-tank RethinkX, who predict that “we are on the cusp of one of the fastest . . . most consequential disruptions of transportation in history”.        处在另一个极端的是类似科技智库RethinkX的那些人,他们预测,“我们正站在历史上最迅速……最重大的交通模式颠覆之一的门槛上。”
        They forecast that 95 per cent of US passenger miles will be made by autonomous, electric, on-demand vehicle fleets within 10 years of receiving widespread regulatory approval as we move towards a “transport-as-a-service” model. By 2030, the number of passenger vehicles on American roads will drop from 247m to 44m, destroying millions of driving jobs and the oil industry.        他们预测,在获得广泛监管审批后的10年内,美国95%的客运里程将由自动驾驶汽车、电动汽车和约车完成。我们将转向把“交通作为服务”的模式。到2030年,美国的乘用车保有量将从2.47亿降至4400万,数百万的驾驶岗位乃至石油业将遭到毁灭性打击。
        Which scenario unfolds in the real world will be a matter of societal choice as much as technological possibility. We should triple-test the technology, weigh the evidence carefully and choose wisely. We have had enough of bad inventions.        哪种场景会在真实世界出现,既是一个社会选择问题,也是一个技术可能性问题。我们应该反复测试这项技术、审慎衡量证据,然后做出明智选择。我们的糟糕发明已经够多了。
        john.thornhill@ft.com        译者/梁艳裳

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