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我们会成为物联网的奴隶吗?
The internet of things game puts the rulemakers and the rule takers in the pit

来源:FT中文网    2018-01-10 06:54



        The 16th-century French writer Etienne de La Boétie, hailed by some as the western world’s first libertarian philosopher, is worth reading today. In his Discourse on Voluntary Servitude        被一些人尊称为西方世界第一位自由至上主义哲学家的16世纪法国作家艾蒂安•德•拉博埃西(Etienne de La Boétie)的作品今天仍然值得一读。在他的《论自愿为奴》(Discourse on Voluntary Servitude)中,拉博埃西指出,大众往往自己甘愿为奴,而不是被主人压迫。
        , La Boétie argued that the masses were often enslaved by their own compliance more than repression by their masters.        对古代人来说,面包、马戏和“其他类似的鸦片”就是“被奴役的诱饵,自由的代价,暴政的工具”,他写道。“通过这些手法和诱惑,古代独裁者成功地给他们的臣民套上枷锁,让他们心甘情愿地被他们奴役,民众被那些从他们眼前一闪而过的消遣娱乐和空虚乐趣所麻痹,天真、但并不光荣地学会了顺从,像小孩子通过看色彩明快的图画书学习阅读一样。”
        Bread, circuses and “other such opiates” were, for ancient peoples, “the bait towards slavery, the price of their liberty, the instruments of tyranny”, he wrote. “By these practices and enticements the ancient dictators so successfully lulled their subjects under the yoke, that the stupefied peoples, fascinated by the pastimes and vain pleasures flashed before their eyes, learnt subservience as naively, but not so creditably, as little children learn to read by looking at bright picture books.”        几年前,在瑞士的一次公开辩论中,我听到一位听众质疑说,我们是不是被大量推文、点赞和刷屏刺激下分泌的多巴胺所迷惑,而自愿被数字霸主奴役?
        A few years ago, at a public debate in Switzerland, I heard one member of the audience question whether we were not falling into the voluntary servitude of our digital overlords enthralled by the dopamine rush of a thousand tweets, likes and swipes.        如果现在就开始担心我们会成为技术奴隶,那么,在互联网发展的下一个阶段会发生什么?届时,将有数十亿的设备联网。我们的手表、衣服、汽车和数字助理可能会满足我们的每一项需求,提供极大的便利,与此同时,它们也会监视我们日常生活的方方面面,就连肌肉的一次小抽搐也不放过,让我们赤裸裸地暴露在正在兴起的算法治理(algocracy)面前。
        If we are already worrying about our technological subservience today, then what will happen during the next stage of the internet’s evolution when billions of connected devices come online? Our watches, clothes, cars and digital assistants may cater to our every convenience but they will also monitor every spasm of our daily lives, leaving us naked in front of our emerging algocracy.        物联网会给我们带来自由,还是给我们戴上枷锁?
        Is this internet of things going to set us free or lock us up?        这个问题是牛津大学互联网研究院(Oxford Internet Institute)教授菲利普•霍华德(Philip Howard)撰写的《技术治下的和平》(Pax Technica)一书的副标题,同时也是最近在剑桥大学(Cambridge University)艺术、社会和人文科学研究中心(Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities)举行的一次会议的主题。
        That question is the subtitle of a book called Pax Technica by Philip Howard, a professor at the Oxford Internet Institute. It was also the subject of a recent conference at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities at Cambridge university.        霍华德认为,物联网正在成为有史以来最强大的政治工具,挑战、并在某些方面取代过去500年来最成功的政治组织形式——民族国家——的权威。
        Mr Howard argues that the internet of things is emerging as the most powerful political tool ever created, challenging and, in some respects, supplanting the authority of the most successful form of political organisation for the past 500 years, the nation state.        “到2020年,将有大约300亿台设备与互联网连接,统治全球80亿人的政治权力将掌握在控制这些设备的人手中,”他写道。
        “By 2020 there will be some 30bn devices connected to the internet, and political power over the 8bn people on the planet will rest with the people who control those devices,” he writes.        他认为,大多数帝国的强盛都是由信息基础设施领域的技术优势所支撑的。罗马和平(Pax Romana)是建立在道路和水道之上,而不列颠和平(Pax Britannica)依靠的是防御工事网和海上霸权。
        Most empires, he argues, have been underpinned by technological superiority in the realm of informational infrastructure. The Pax Romana        但是,即将到来的“技术治下的和平”可能在某些重要方面有所不同。最引人瞩目的是,占主导地位的信息基础设施可能主要由诸如Facebook这样的私人实体、而不是由像法国这样的公共实体所有。这可能导致政府和正在改写政治规则的商业力量之间达成一系列便利的安排。
        was built on roads and aqueducts; the Pax Britannica relied on networks of fortifications and naval supremacy.        用剑桥大学政治学教授戴维•朗西曼(David Runciman)的话来说,这个“技术治下的和平”可能会使我们向一个“物有、物治、物享”的政府发展。
        But the forthcoming Pax Technica may differ in some important ways. Most notably, the dominant informational infrastructure may be mainly owned by private, rather than public, entities, by Facebook rather than France. That may lead to a pact of convenience developing between governmental and commercial powers rewriting the rules of politics.        霍华德提出,由于商业压力和监管框架的不同,美国、中国和欧洲可能会形成三种不同的政体。全球其他国家将在这场技术大博弈中成为规则接受者,而不是规则制定者。
        In the words of David Runciman, professor of politics at the University of Cambridge, this Pax Technica may move us towards a “government of the things, by the things, for the things”.        关于“假新闻”和美国大选受到操纵的辩论,已经让我们提前见识了“技术治下的和平”控制公民社会的能力。想象一下,若一个人工智能机器人可以从物联网上抓取数据,并在选举前48小时向选民有针对性地投放个性化广告。数据沙皇和公民社会之间的信息不对称将急剧扩大,形成一条巨大的鸿沟。
        Mr Howard suggests three distinct regimes are likely to develop in the US, China and Europe, shaped by differing commercial pressures and regulatory frameworks. The rest of the world will be rule takers, rather than rulemakers, in this technological great game.        这一切听起来可能有点怪异,像是一个反乌托邦社会。但事实上,一些人相信,如果我们现在就采取行动来防止最糟糕的情况出现,结果可能会好得多,霍华德先生就是其中之一。对于物联网可能会演变成一个“全景监狱”(panopticon)的说法,参加剑桥大学会议的一些计算机科学家并不认同。更可能的是,它会发展成许多零散的“物连网”(networks of things)。
        The ability of Pax Technica to control civil society has been foreshadowed in the debate over “fake news” and the manipulation of the US presidential election. Imagine a world in which an artificial intelligence-enabled bot can pull down data from the internet of things and target personalised advertisements at voters 48 hours before an election. The informational asymmetry between the data imperialists and civil society will widen into a chasm.        目前,技术熔岩已经被充分熔化,可以引导其流向我们所希望的方向。但这还需要我们所有人对信息政策、工程协议和电信标准的细节给予高度的关注。最终,在塑造我们未来的过程中,这些监管细节可能远比英国脱欧或唐纳德•特朗普(Donald Trump)总统引起的骚动要重要得多。
        All this may sound outlandishly dystopian. Indeed, Mr Howard is one of those who believes that far better outcomes are possible if we act now to forestall the worst. Some of the computer scientists at the conference rejected the idea that the internet of things would evolve into one panopticon. More likely, it would develop into many fragmentary “networks of things”.        “决心不再为奴,你马上就能获得自由,”拉博埃西总结道。对我们今天所处的时代,这也是很好的建议。
        For the moment, the technological lava is molten enough to be channelled in directions we desire. But that depends on us all taking an intense interest in the minutiae of information policy, engineering protocols and telecommunications standards. Ultimately, these regulatory details may be far more important in shaping our futures than the tumult over Brexit or President Donald Trump.        译者/何黎
                
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