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Chips with everything

芯片无处不在



How the world will change as computers spread into everyday obxts

随着计算机被应用于日常物品,世界将发生什么变化

The “Internet of Things” will fundamentally change the relationship between consumers and producers

“物联网”将从根本上改变消费者与生产商之间的关系

On august 29th, as Hurricane Dorian tracked towards America’s east coast, Elon Musk, the boss of Tesla, an electric-car maker, announced that some of his customers in the storm’s path would find that their cars had suddenly developed the ability to drive farther on a single battery charge. Like many modern vehicles, Mr Musk’s products are best thought of as internet-connected computers on wheels. The cheaper models in Tesla’s line-up have parts of their batteries disabled by the car’s software in order to limit their range. At the tap of a keyboard in Palo Alto, the firm was able to remove those restrictions and give drivers temporary access to the full power of their batteries.

8月29日,飓风“多里安”向美国东海岸袭来,电动汽车制造商“特斯拉”的总裁艾伦·马斯克宣布,处在风暴路径上的部分消费者将发现,他们的汽车突然具备单次充电续航更远的能力。正如许多现代车辆,马斯克先生的产品被视为车轮上的联网计算机再恰当不过。在特斯拉的阵容中,比较便宜的车型有部分电池被汽车软件禁用了,目的是限制续航里程。坐落于美国帕罗奥多的这家公司只需敲击键盘,就能取消该限制,让驾驶员临时使用全功率电池。



Businesses will get efficiency, as information about the physical world that used to be ephemeral and uncertain becomes concrete and analysable. Smart lighting in buildings saves energy. Computerised machinery can predict its own breakdowns and schedule preventive maintenance. Connected cows can have their eating habits and vital signs tracked in real time, which means they produce more milk and require less medicine when they fall ill. Such gains are individually small but, compounded again and again across an economy, they are the raw material of growth—potentially a great deal of it.

随着物质世界的信息从过去的瞬息万变变得具体而可分析,企业效率将有所提升。建筑物的智能照明节约能源,计算机化设备预测自身故障并安排预防性维护。联网的母牛拥有各自的饮食习惯,生命体征被实时跟踪,这意味着产奶量增加,患病所需药量减少。这些益处对于个人微不足道,但在整个经济中会不断增强,成为经济增长的原动力——可能带来巨幅的增长。

In the long term, though, the most conspicuous effects of the iot will be in how the world works. One way to think of it is as the second phase of the internet. This will carry with it the business models that have come to dominate the first phase—all-conquering “platform” monopolies, for instance, or the data-driven approach that critics call “surveillance capitalism”. Ever more companies will become tech companies; the internet will become all-pervasive. As a result, a series of unresolved arguments about ownership, data, surveillance, competition and security will spill over from the virtual world into the real one.

但从长远来看,物联网将对世界的运作方式产生最显著的影响。一种思考方式是将物联网视为互联网的第二阶段,它将具备第一阶段的主要商业模式——例如“平台”垄断,或者说数据驱动方法,批评人士称其为“监视型资本主义”。越来越多的公司将变成科技企业;互联网将无处不在。因此,诸如所有权、数据、监视、竞争、安全等一系列悬而未决的争议将从虚拟世界向现实世界蔓延。

Start with ownership. As Mr Musk showed, the internet gives firms the ability to stay connected to their products even after they have been sold, transforming them into something closer to services than goods. That has already blurred traditional ideas of ownership. When Microsoft closed its ebook store in July, for instance, its customers lost the ability to read titles they had bought (the firm offered refunds). Some early adopters of “smart home” gadgets have found that they ceased to work after the firms that made them lost interest.

首先是所有权问题。正如马斯克先生所展示的,产品卖出去后,企业能够与产品保持联网,说它们是产品,倒不如说是服务。这已经模糊了传统的所有权概念。例如,微软公司在7月份关闭了电子书店,用户无法阅读购买过的书籍(微软提供退款)。 “智能家居”小家电的一些早期用户发现,产品随着制造商失去兴趣而停止运行。



Then there is competition. Flows of data from iot gadgets are just as valuable as those gleaned from Facebook posts or a Google search history. The logic of data-driven businesses, which do ever better as they collect and process more information, will replicate the market dynamics that have seen the rise of giant platform companies on the internet. The need for standards, and for iot devices to talk to each other, will add to the leaders’ advantages—as will consumer fears, some of them justified, over the vulnerability of internet-connected cars, medical implants and other devices to hacking.

再有就是竞争。“脸书”帖子和谷歌搜索历史搜集宝贵的数据流,物联网也是如此。数据驱动型企业将复制互联网平台型巨头企业兴起时的市场动态,搜集和处理的信息越多就做得越好。市场对制定标准的需求,对物联网设备相互沟通的需求将增强龙头企业的优势——消费者担心联网汽车、医用植入物及其他设备存在的漏洞容易遭到黑客的入侵,其中某些担忧不无道理。

Predicting the consequences of any technology is hard—especially one as universal as computing. The advent of the consumer internet, 25 years ago, was met with starry-eyed optimism. These days it is the internet’s defects, from monopoly power to corporate snooping and online radicalisation, that dominate the headlines. The trick with the iot, as with anything, will be to maximise the benefits while minimising the harms. That will not be easy. But the people thinking about how to do it have the advantage of having lived through the first internet revolution—which should give them some idea of what to expect.

科技的后果难以预料,尤其像计算机这种普遍应用的技术。25年前,人们以天真的乐观心态迎接消费者互联网的到来。如今,互联网的缺陷成了头条新闻:垄断力量、企业窥探、网络激进化。与任何事情一样,物联网的把戏是将利益最大化,伤害最小化。这绝非易事,但思考如何做到这一点的人有一个优势,就是经历过第一次互联网革命,这应该让他们知道该期待什么。