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时间:2019年09月23日 19:53:18

The other day Angela Merkel took a few hours out from the cacophony of day-to-day politics. Putting to one side migration, the eurozone, Russia and Ukraine, Brexit and the rest, the chancellor gave a speech about algorithms. Yes, algorithms.几天前,安格拉.默克尔(Angela Merkel)抽出几小时暂别喧嚣的日常政治。德国总理把移民、欧元区、俄罗斯和乌克兰、英国退欧以及其他事宜搁置一边,发表了关于算法的演讲。没错,就是算法。Her message to an audience in Munich was that the search engines that deliver news on websites such as Google and Facebook are creating distorting prisms. The closely guarded formulas, or algorithms, used by these companies to tailor the output to recorded personal preferences can create echo chambers. Citizens eventually may receive only the news that fits their prejudices — a gift to today’s populist proponents of post-truth politics. Healthy democracies depend on the wide exposure of conflicting ideas and interpretations.她在慕尼黑向听众传达的信息是,在谷歌(Google)和Facebook等网站发布新闻的搜索引擎正在创造扭曲的棱镜。这些公司根据记录下来的个人偏好,运用高度保密的公式(即算法)来定制内容,这可能制造出“回音室”。公民们最终只会看到符合他们偏见的新闻——这对当今“后真相政治”的民粹主义鼓吹者是一份大礼。健康的民主体制有赖于民众全面接触各种观点和解读的碰撞。At the very least, Ms Merkel said, it was incumbent on the technology companies to be transparent about the way the algorithms are constructed, so viewers and ers understood they are being offered a strictly limited perspective on the world around them.默克尔表示,科技公司至少有义务公开算法的构建方式,让观众和读者们明白自己获得的世界视角是严格受限的。A couple of days later an employment court in London ruled in favour of Uber drivers who had complained that their contracts wrongly denied them basic employment rights such as the minimum wage and paid holidays. Uber, the court said, could not pretend they were entirely independent contractors.两天后,伦敦一个雇佣法庭做出了持优步(Uber)司机主张的判决,这些司机此前抱怨,他们的劳动合同错误地没有给予他们最低工资和带薪休假等基本雇佣权利。该法庭表示,优步不能假装他们是完全独立的承包商。As striking as the court’s judgment was the robust language in which it was couched. The notion that the London operations of Uber, Judge Anthony Snelson remarked laconically, represented a mosaic of some 30,000 small businesses linked by Uber’s technology platform, was “faintly ridiculous”. The company had resorted to fictitious and twisted language and had even invented “brand new terminology” in the effort to hoodwink the court.和法庭判决内容同样引人注目的是判决书所用的有力措辞。安东尼.斯内尔森法官(Judge Anthony Snelson)精辟地说道,有关优步伦敦业务代表着依靠其技术平台连接起来的大约3万家小企业的说法“有些可笑”。优步求助于虚构且不通的语言,甚至发明了“全新术语”来糊弄法庭。Uber has said it will appeal against the decision. Many lawyers think it more likely the judgment will improve the working conditions of hundreds of thousands of people now employed in Britain’s casual, or “gig”, economy.优步表示将提起上诉。许多律师认为更有可能的情况是,该判决将会改善如今受雇于英国零工经济的数十万人的工作条件。You would have to be a conspiracy theorist of Trumpian proportions to connect these two events in different European cities. And yet they tell much the same story. Ms Merkel’s speech and Mr Snelson’s ruling are straws in a wind that is changing the weather in Europe for the mainly American technology groups. Not so long ago the digital innovators and disrupters seemed set to sweep all before them. Now politicians and regulators are pushing back.你得是特朗普那种水平的阴谋论者才能将发生于欧洲不同城市的这两件事联系起来。然而它们在本质上确实是一回事。对以美国为主的科技集团来说,默克尔的演讲和斯内尔森法官的判决是欧洲风向改变的迹象。就在不久前,数字创新者和颠覆者似乎还势不可挡。如今政客和监管机构正在反击。Of course, opposition to Uber and Airbnb, its rent-an-apartment equivalent, is not confined to one side of the Atlantic. The governor of New York has signed into law severe restrictions on Airbnb’s operations in the state and Uber has faced battles with its drivers in several US cities. But it is in Europe that you sense the deeper disquiet about the economic and societal effect of these technologies.当然,反对优步和公寓租赁务网站Airbnb的不仅仅局限于大西洋的一边。纽约州州长签署法令严格限制Airbnb在该州的运营,而优步在美国多个城市遭遇其司机的抗争。但在欧洲,你感觉人们对这些技术带来的经济和社会影响的担忧更为深切。Another manifestation came in the summer with the European Commission’s imposition of a EURO13bn fine on Apple. The company’s aggressive tax avoidance — framed, it should be said, in collusion with a previous Irish government — ran foul of competition laws. The Brussels commission has few admirers these days in EU member states but applause for the fine echoed across the continent’s capitals.今夏欧盟委员会(European Commission)对苹果(Apple)罚款130亿欧元是另一个明。该公司激进的避税手法——应该指出是与之前的爱尔兰政府联手炮制的——违反了反垄断法。如今欧盟成员国几乎没有人对欧盟委员会抱有好感,但这一罚单在各国首都赢得赞赏。Apple is not alone. The commission is investigating Amazon’s tax affairs and has launched a probe into whether Google has broken antitrust rules. Facebook has bowed to pressure and agreed to book more of its sales in the UK rather than the Republic of Ireland, which has a lower corporate tax rate.苹果并非个例。欧盟委员会正在调查亚马逊(Amazon)的税务安排,并对谷歌(Google)是否违反了反垄断规则展开调查。Facebook屈从于压力,同意在英国(而非爱尔兰)申报更多的销售收入——爱尔兰的企业税率更低一些。Google, which has had its offices in Paris and Madrid raided by tax inspectors, may do something similar.谷歌在巴黎和马德里的办公室遭到税务机关的突击搜查,该公司可能也会屈。There is a suspicion in Washington that all this is part of a protectionist plot. Europeans are simply unhappy with the way US companies dominate the marketplace. And there is something to that charge. It is probably no accident that German media businesses are among the sharpest critics of the mysteries of search engine algorithms.华盛顿有人怀疑,所有这些都是保护主义阴谋的一部分。欧洲人只是对美国企业主导市场的格局感到不快。这种怀疑有一定道理。德国媒体界跻身于最猛烈抨击搜索引擎神秘算法的行列,很可能并非偶然。There is also something else: a collision between Silicon Valley’s “government get out of the way” disdain for anything that might dent its profits and a growing awareness among politicians of the public policy implications of the new technologies. It matters to Europe’s political leaders if voters are exposed only to views they agree with, or if workers are denied decent wages and social safety nets in the so-called sharing economy.也有其他因素:硅谷对任何可能影响其利润的事情都采取“让政府走开”的不屑态度,而政客们日益意识到新技术对公共政策的潜在影响,两者存在冲突。如果选民只能获得他们认可的观点,如果劳动者在所谓的共享经济中无法获得体面的薪资和社会安全网,欧洲政治领导人不想管也得管。Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, often sounds as if he believes his company should be free to decide how much it pays in taxes. Mr Cook thinks it is for Apple rather than elected politicians to decide where to strike the balance between personal privacy and national security in the use of encryption. He does not seem to have noticed that these are tough political times or that governments are no longer dazzled by all the technological hype.苹果首席执行官蒂姆.库克(Tim Cook)往往给人的印象是,他相信自己的公司应该自由决定交多少税。库克认为,在加密技术的使用上,应该由苹果(而非民选产生的政客)决定个人隐私与国家安全之间的恰当平衡。他似乎没有注意到,当今的政治形势十分严峻,同时各国政府也不再对所有的技术炒作觉得了不起。What is happening, I think, is that these businesses are being “socialised” — albeit slowly and with some kicking and screaming. The direction is as it should be. Technology companies cannot opt out of the responsibilities borne by other businesses. A rebalancing of the relationship between private profit and public welfare is overdue. Mr Cook would do best to stick with the clever gadgets.我认为,现在发生的情况是,这些企业正在被“社会化”,尽管这个过程缓慢而且存在抵制。从大方向说,理应如此。科技公司不能逃避其他企业承担的责任。早就应该再平衡私人利润与公共福利之间的关系了。库克最好专注于推出智能设备。 /201611/476519

The advance of the self-driving car may be the most important technological breakthrough of the coming decades.自动驾驶汽车领域的进展可能是未来几十年最重要的科技突破。Even generally well-informed people I meet regard driverless vehicles as being still pretty “out there”. And I doubt that the hundreds of millions of people who steer vehicles for a living will start giving it much thought until too late.即使我遇到的一些消息灵通人士也认为,无人驾驶汽车仍然是“很遥远的事情”。我也怀疑,为了谋生而开车的亿万人会及时开始深入考虑这一问题。But major car companies are vying to get consumer-y autonomous cars on the market by around 2020. Professionals, from economists to town planners to traffic engineers to legislators to insurers, are starting to grapple with the massive changes this will bring.但各大车企正致力于在2020年左右把面向消费者的自动驾驶汽车推向市场。从经济学家到城市规划者,从交通工程师到立法者和保险业者,专业人士正着手应对它将带来的巨大变化。What, then, might a smart lawyer make of the legal implications of the coming transport revolution?那么,对于这场即将到来的运输革命,一位聪明的律师会怎样看待其潜在法律影响呢?I have been to Cambridge to meet Stephen Hamilton, a partner in the UK law firm, Mills amp; Reeve, which is positioning itself as an authority on driverless vehicle law.我到剑桥(Cambridge)拜访了英国律所Mills amp; Reeve合伙人史蒂芬?汉密尔顿(Stephen Hamilton);该律所正定位于无人驾驶车辆法律的权威。Mr Hamilton specialises in helping companies raise funds from the capital markets, but he has spent three years researching and building expertise on autonomous vehicles.汉密尔顿专长于帮助企业从资本市场筹集资金,但他花了三年时间研究自动驾驶汽车,积累起相关专业知识。“The internet is all about moving text, voice and pictures around digitally,” he says, as we look out over university buildings where scientists from Isaac Newton to Charles Darwin to Stephen Hawking have worked.他说:“互联网的本质就是以数字方式来传送文字、语音和图片。”我们望着校内一栋栋建筑,这里是艾萨克?牛顿(Isaac Newton)、查尔斯?达尔文(Charles Darwin)和斯蒂芬?霍金(Stephen Hawking)曾工作过的地方。“The disruption the internet caused was massive. But if we get there on self-driving mobility, and we’re moving people and things around a network digitally, we ain’t seen nothing yet in terms of disruption.”“互联网造成的颠覆是巨大的。但如果我们实现无人驾驶,利用数字手段在一个网络内运输人和物件,就颠覆而言,大幕才刚拉开。”The legal question around self-driving cars that has attracted most attention, however, is not about the great shifts in the way we might live, but the “who to kill” dilemma: a child runs out in front of an autonomous car, should it be programmed to swerve to avoid the child, even if that means hitting an oncoming car or people at a bus stop?围绕自动驾驶汽车的法律问题引起了极大关注,但人们关注的并不是我们的生活方式可能发生的巨大转变,而是“该杀谁”的两难困境:一个孩子突然出现在一辆自动驾驶汽车前方,汽车应不应该从编程上急转弯以避开孩子,哪怕这意味着与迎面而来的汽车相撞,或撞到在公交车站等车的人?In Mr Hamilton’s view, this ethical question has been overplayed.在汉密尔顿看来,这个伦理问题被过度夸大了。“The solution is that when a vehicle meets an obstruction, it can do only a limited number of things — steer left or right to overtake or get round it, or brake, or accelerate. The last is unlikely to be applicable, so it’s really a three-way choice.“解决办法是,当车辆遇到障碍物时,它能采取的行动是有限的:从左方或右方超车或绕过去,或者刹车,或者加速。最后一个不太可能适用,所以这实际上就是一个三项选择题。”“What we would suggest is that if you can’t get round it, the only choice is to brake and avoid or mitigate the damage. There’s no ethical choice in that for an algorithm or decision tree to act on. It’s an obstruction that’s moved into your path that shouldn’t have been there, just like somebody falling or jumping in front of a train.”“我们的建议是,如果你不能绕过去,唯一的选择就是刹车,避免或减轻伤害。这里不存在需要算法或决策树伤脑筋的道德选择。你前方的路上出现了一个不该在那里的障碍,就像有人摔倒或者跳到火车前方。”You can “war game” anomalies, he explains, but each time, the only answer is to brake and hope for the least damage to the child. Anyway, autonomous cars will always be driving more safely than humans do, and will always react faster than even a rational, alert and sober human.他解释说,你可以把异常状况搞得像“战争游戏”,但每一次的只有一个:刹车,并希望对孩子的伤害降到最小。无论如何,自动驾驶汽车总会比人类驾驶员更安全,总会比哪怕是理性、警觉、清醒的人类驾驶员反应更快。Another ethical issue Mr Hamilton flagged up is the potential mighty fuss over unfit drivers taking to the road again in a self-driving car. Could or should society stop a banned driver from buying a self-driving car and regaining full mobility?汉密尔顿提出的另一个伦理问题是,已被吊销驾照的驾驶者开着自动驾驶汽车再次驶上道路,潜在可能引起极大的争议。社会可以(或者应该)阻止被吊销驾照的司机购买自动驾驶汽车和重获完全机动能力吗?Then there is a boring-but-important legislative issue. Road traffic law throughout the developed world is based on two international treaties, the Geneva Convention of 1949 and the Vienna Convention.还有一个枯燥但重要的立法问题。发达国家的公路交通法律基于两项国际公约:1949年《日内瓦道路交通公约》(Geneva Convention on Road Traffic),以及1968年《维也纳道路交通公约》(Vienna Convention on Road Traffic)。Both specify that control of a vehicle must at all times be with the driver, so they will need to be adapted before fully self-driving cars are legal. Far from a small matter.二者都规定任何时候车辆都必须由驾驶员控制,因此在全自动驾驶汽车合法之前,先得修改这条规定。这绝不是件小事。China, which has signed neither convention, is in a position to put autonomous cars on its roads. Chinese manufacturers are still grappling with the technology, but rest of the world, you have been warned.并未签署这两项公约的中国,可以让自动驾驶汽车上路。中国的制造商仍在攻克无人驾驶技术,但全球其他地方应该关注这个法律问题。Another thing. What about free will? If my car is behind an older gentleman’s ancient vehicle doing a steady 20mph, can I programme mine to overtake, possibly breaking the speed limit as it does so?此外就是自由意志的问题。如果我的车跟在一位年长绅士的老爷车后面,该车以20英里的时速慢吞吞地行驶,我可以给自己的车编程超车吗?哪怕它可能在超车时违反限速规定?The answer, Mr Hamilton believes, is that there is unlikely to be an “accept moderately risky driving” option in your autonomous car’s presets.哈密尔顿认为,是,自动驾驶汽车的预设选项中不太可能出现“接受适度风险驾驶”这一选项。“But anyway,” he adds a little drily, “I suspect that the car won’t get bored or fed up”, like human drivers do. Instead, it “will know that at the end of the journey, the overtake will have saved about seven seconds [so it] will apply ruthless logic and not do it”.“但无论如何,”他带着一丝冷幽默说,“我估计汽车不会(像人类驾驶员那样)感到无聊或厌烦”。相反,它“会知道最终而言,这次超车可以节省大约7秒钟,因此它会运用不带感情的逻辑分析,决定不超车。”Hacking your car’s software to do so, he added, will be illegal. The same software will also refuse to drive you anywhere but the garage if the car needs a service or a system update.他补充说,黑进汽车软件这么干是非法的。软件将拒绝把你载到任何地方,唯独汽车修理厂除外——如果汽车需要保养,或者进行系统更新。It is not insignificant that last year’s registrations of new (human driven) cars in the UK hit a high of 2.69m. Neither is it to be overlooked that the CEO of the Toyota Research Institute said at the Consumer Electronics Show just last week that the car industry is “not even close” to fully autonomous cars.值得一提的是,去年英国(人类驾驶的)新车注册量高达269万辆。还有一件事也不可忽视,丰田研究院(Toyota Research Institute)首席执行官近日在消费电子展(CES)上表示,汽车行业离全自动驾驶汽车的“边儿都不挨着”。Yet I came away from my meeting with Mr Hamilton pretty sure that not long from now, the notion of humans steering vehicles will, as he believes, seem as anachronistic and undesirable as jousting or duelling.不过当我与汉密尔顿告别时,我十分确信一点:不久以后,就像汉密尔顿所认为的那样,人类驾驶汽车将像骑马比武或决斗一样,成为一个过时的、不可取的概念。 /201701/489251


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