准备迎接第二个特别世纪 Prepare for the dawn of a second special century

本文摘要:The thesis of Robert Gordon’s magisterial book The Rise and Fall of American Growth, stands in sharp contrast to the technological optimism that bubbles out of Silicon Valley. The argument is that the years from 1870 to 1970 were the “spec


The thesis of Robert Gordon’s magisterial book The Rise and Fall of American Growth, stands in sharp contrast to the technological optimism that bubbles out of Silicon Valley. The argument is that the years from 1870 to 1970 were the “special century”. Someone born when Benjamin Disraeli was prime minister and who lived to see Edward Heath in Downing Street would have witnessed horse-drawn transport give way to cars and aircraft. Born when medical services were largely useless, she would have seen cures found for most infectious diseases and experienced the introduction of electric light, indoor plumbing and colour television. 罗伯特戈登(Robert Gordon)权威著作《美国快速增长的固定翼》(The Rise and Fall of American Growth)的论点与硅谷迸发出的科技乐观主义构成独特对照。本书指出,1870年至1970年是一个“尤其世纪”。

在本杰明迪斯雷利(Benjamin Disraeli)兼任英国首相时出生于、并在有生之年看见爱德华希斯(Edward Heath)接掌唐宁街的人,亲眼了马拉交通被汽车和飞机代替。出生于医疗服务基本多余时的她,亲眼了多数传染病化疗方法的找到,并经历了电灯、室内下水管道以及彩电的问世。

The past 50 years, according to Professor Gordon, have been “dazzling but disappointing”. We are dazzled because our attention is focused on advances in entertainment, communications and information technology. The disappointment is partly statistical — productivity growth has slowed. And looking beyond the field of IT, he argues, there have been no advances in materials, fuel technologies or food production and distribution comparable to those of the special century. 戈登教授指出,过去50年让人“眼花缭乱,但令人沮丧”。我们之所以深感眼花缭乱是因为我们的注意力集中于在娱乐、通信和信息技术(IT)的发展。

沮丧在一定程度上是统计资料上的:生产率增长速度上升。他指出,除了IT,原材料、燃料技术或食品生产以及分销都没经常出现与“尤其世纪”哈密顿的变革。Boeing’s first 747 flew in 1969, and today’s jumbo jets are recognisably similar. The great blockbuster drugs have, it seems, already been discovered. While US productivity enjoyed a spurt in the 1990s, as digital innovations transformed our lives, the special century is unlikely to be repeated. Given an ageing population and an inadequate educational system, a significant increase in American living standards should not be expected. 波音(Boeing)首架747飞机于1969年升空,今天的大型喷气式客机依然与它类似于。


鉴于人口老龄化和教育体制不完备,预计美国的生活水平会明显下降。Progress in introducing robotics into service activities is “glacially slow”, observes Prof Gordon. Amazon employs product pickers; delivery drivers still mostly load and unload their trucks manually. Sceptical of driverless cars, he asks what commuters will actually do with the time they do not have to spend behind the wheel. His scepticism will no doubt have been compounded by a recent accident involving one of Google’s driverless cars. 戈登教授指出,将机器人引进服务业方面的进展“极为较慢”。



Yet, if not much seems to have happened, it is perhaps because we see that much is yet to come. No great effort of imagination is required to visualise machines that unload casks of beer or stack supermarket shelves. And if we trust robots to undertake surgery, why should they not offer pedicures or cut hair as people become more expensive and machines cheaper? Perhaps the future of progress lies in the application of IT to things that do not at first sight have much to do with it. 然而,如果情况或许没再次发生相当大的变化,那也许是因为我们指出未来将再次发生相当大变化。我们不必须希望想象就能设想出有机器接下啤酒桶或把货物放在超市货架上的场景。

如果我们信任机器人做手术,在人工更加便宜而机器更加廉价之际,为什么不想机器人来获取足疗或剪发服务?也许未来的变革在于将IT应用于那些乍一看与IT没多大关系的事物。Such opportunities are of two kinds. Computers can now replace human operatives in well-defined repetitive tasks. Examples include the computerised conveyancer, the robo-adviser as portfolio manager and the digital doctor. Many traditional middle-class occupations will be eliminated in this way. 这些机会有两种。



The more subtle, and perhaps more profound, development is the capacity of digital processing to aid the discovery of things that will form the basis of new technologies. Gene sequencing and big data are likely to shape the future of medicine. Progress in battery technology is advancing by leaps and bounds thanks to the analytic capabilities in the hands of today’s researchers. If the world became wired in the “special century”, perhaps it will become wireless in the next. 更加错综复杂而且也许更加深远影响的发展是,数字处置能力将帮助包含未来新技术基础的事物的找到。基因测序和大数据可能会转变药物的未来。归功于当今研究人员掌控的分析能力,电池技术的发展突飞猛进。如果说世界在“尤其世纪”构建了有线相连,那么在下一个“尤其世纪”世界也许将构建无线连接。

And do not underestimate the increasing speed at which innovations are adopted. Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity in 1752 and Richard Trevithick’s car, the Puffing Devil, took to the roads of Cornwall in 1801. But it was only towards the end of the special century that electricity and cars were available to most households. The first smartphone was sold in 2007 and today 1.5bn are in use. 不要高估创意获得使用的日益减缓的速度。本杰明富兰克林(Benjamin Franklin)在1752年找到了电,理查德特里维西克(Richard Trevithick)生产的蒸汽机车Puffing Devil于1801年在康沃尔郡上路。但直到“尤其世纪”慢完结时,电和汽车才转入千家万户。而第一部智能手机于2007年上市,如今有数15亿用户。

The limits to productivity growth are set only by the limits to human inventiveness. 生产率快速增长的无限大只各不相同人类创造力的无限大。