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双语阅读|人工智能或许并非是工人的噩梦

人工智能并非威胁工人 来自翻吧 00:00 05:03

A SPECTRE is haunting workers—the rise of artificial intelligence (AI). The fear is that smart computer programs will eliminate millions of jobs, condemning a generation to minimum-wage drudgery or enforced idleness. Never mind the robots, fear the software.

人工智能正蓬勃发展,这是对工人的魔咒。有人担心智能的计算机程序会干掉数以百万计的工作岗位,让一代人吃低保,甚至是无事可做。不必在意机器人,要的是软件。

There is no need to be so gloomy, say Ken Goldberg of the University of California, Berkeley, and Vinod Kumar, the chief executive of Tata Communications, a unit of India’s biggest business house (which stands to profit from the spread of AI). They have produced a report* that is much more optimistic about the outlook for ordinary employees. In many cases, it says, job satisfaction will be enhanced by the elimination of mundane tasks, giving people time to be more creative.

加州大学伯克利分校肯•戈德堡和印度最大企业家塔塔下属的塔塔电信首席执行官维诺德•库马尔均表示不必如此悲观。他们发表过一篇报告,对普通劳动者的就业前景更加乐观。该报告称,在很多情况下,工作满意度会随工作任务的减少而提高,原因是人们有更多的时间来变得更有创造才能。

Their views are backed up by a survey of 120 senior executives, conducted for the report, which found that more of them (77%) thought that AI would create new roles than believed it would replace existing positions (57%; respondents could choose both options). Extra skills may be needed to cope with the new technology and more than half of the bosses are already taking steps to train their workforces.

他们的观点得到了对120名高管调查的结果证实。该调查发现,大多数人认为人工智能有望创造新岗位(77%),少数人认为它们会取代工人(57%;受访者可以双选)。掌握新技术需要学习更多的技能,一半以上的高管开始采取行动,培训员工。

Previous technology shifts have not had as negative effects on employment as was first feared. The authors note some well-known examples. Bar-code scanners did not eliminate the role of cashiers in America; jobs in the retail industry grew at an annual rate of more than 2% between 1980 and 2013. The arrival of automated teller machines (ATMs) spared bank employees the job of doling out cash and freed them to offer financial advice to customers.

之前的技术转变对就业的负面影响并不像人们一开始想的那样严重。两位报告作者给出了一些经典案例。条形码扫描器并没有剥夺收银员的工作;从1980年到2013年,零售业工作岗位以每年超过2%的速度增长。自动柜员机出现后,银行员工从取款业务中脱身,转向向客户提供财务建议。

Some jobs could be made a lot easier by AI. One example is lorry-driving. Some fear that truck drivers will be replaced by autonomous vehicles. But manoeuvring a lorry around busy streets is far harder than driving down the motorway. So the driver could switch into automatic mode (and get some rest) when outside the big cities, and take over the wheel once again when nearing the destination. The obvious analogy is with jetliners, where the pilots handle take-off and landing but turn on the computer to cruise at 35,000 feet. Using AI may prevent tired drivers from causing accidents.

人工智能某些工作做起来更加容易一些,比如驾驶卡车。有人会担心自动驾驶汽车取代会卡车司机。不过,在流量大的公路上开车要比在高速路上难得多。因此,司机在城外可以切换到自动模式(并能休息一会儿),接近目的地后再亲自操控。客机亦是如此,飞行员执行起飞和降落任务,中期就打开电脑,在35,000英尺的高空自动巡航。使用人工智能可以防止因疲劳驾驶酿成事故。

Turning to office life, AI can help with complex and fiddly tasks like managing supply chains, allocating desk space and keeping records of meetings. All this can free up time for people to work on more important strategic decisions. The authors also think that AI could help collaboration within companies. One obvious example is the elimination of language barriers. Multinational companies may have employees who lack a common language; AI can handle translation in real time so that dialogue is easier.

再说到办公领域,人工智能可以辅助处理供应链、分配办公桌空间、进行会议记录等复杂繁琐的工作。这些工作能给人们腾出时间做重要的战略决策。上述报告人的作者还认为人工智能有助于企业内部合作。一个明显的例子就是能消除语言障碍。跨国公司员工之间可能无法交流;但人工智能可以实时处理翻译,对话交流更容易一些。

And the report argues that AI can produce better decision-making by offering a contrarian opinion so that teams can avoid the danger of groupthink. A program could analyse e-mails and meeting transcripts and issue alerts when potentially false assumptions are being made (rather like the boy in the Hans Christian Andersen tale who notices that the Emperor has no clothes). Or it can warn a team when it is getting distracted from the task in hand.

上述报告提出一个观点,认为人工智能可以提出不同建议,避免集体思维相近,从而做出最佳决策。程序可以分析电子邮件和会议记录,在可能出错时发出警告(它就好比安徒生童话里那个注意到皇帝没穿衣服的男孩)。或者,团队偏离工作重点时,它能进行提示。

When a firm is starting a new project, AI can also suggest experts from other parts of the organisation who could contribute. In recruitment, managers could set criteria for “cognitive diversity” (seeking people with different academic and cultural backgrounds) when conducting a job search and allow AI to suggest candidates. This could eliminate remaining hiring biases in favour of white males.

在一家企业启动新项目时,人工智能还可以举荐其他部门的专业人士参与。在招聘过程中,管理者招人时可以为对“认知多样性”(寻找具有不同学术和文化背景的人)设定标准,放手让人工智能推荐候求职者。这样一来招聘能避免对白人男性特殊对待。

Helen Poitevin of Gartner, a research company, says that some firms are using AI to suggest training possibilities to existing workers, based on the career paths of similar staff, as an aid to their career development. And programs are also being used to analyse individual employees’ feedback so that managers can be aware of specific areas where a lot of people are unhappy. If they react in the right way, this should make workers’ lives better.

市场研究机构Gartner的Helen Poitevin表示,有一些企业正谋求通过类比同类员工的职业发展通道,用人工智能为在职员工培训,帮助他们的职业发展。程序也能分析每个员工的反馈,管理者就能意识哪些部门员工幸福指数低。如果人工智能分析正确,这会让工人的生活更美好。

All of which is a useful corrective to some of the more alarming predictions about the potential effects of AI. But as ever, it needs to be remembered that programs are only as good as the data they are given. If those who input the data have biases, they may show up in the suggestions that it generates. As Ms Poitevin says, AI can help improve diversity in the workforce “if we want it to”. The best employers should be able to turn AI into a positive for workers.

针对人工智能的潜在影响,人们更多地是发出警告之声,上述说法有利回击了这一认识误区。但有一样我们要谨记在心,程序只有通过输入数据才能发挥作用。如果数据输入者产生偏差,就会影响到人工智能下一步提供建议。正如波伊特文所说,“如果我们想实现”,人工智能就可以帮助提高劳动力多样性。好老板应该把人工智能变成员工的福音。

编译:李圆敏

编译:翻吧君

来源:经济学人(2018.09.13)

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