2019年经济学人翻译:如何预测未来

原标题:2019年经济学人翻译:如何预测未来

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Futurology

预测未来

Why it's worth reading crazy-sounding scenarios about the future

为什么看似虚妄的故事仍值得一读呢?

Speculating about the future can make it easier to respond to unexpected events

因为预测未来可以让我们有备于意外事件

Predicting the future is hard. But preparing for its uncertainties, while you lie on the beach, can at least be entertaining. It can also broaden the mind and subtly change your understanding of the present. Rather than the Great American Novel or a tall stack of chick-lit bonkbusters (see our Obituary on Judith Krantz), we propose a different sort of summer reading. Speculating about the future, even if it is far-fetched, can help people and institutions cope with what comes next. For the best material, here are three places to look.

未卜先知并非易事。但是当惬意地躺在沙滩上时,为未来做点打算也不失为一种乐趣。此外,这还能拓宽我们的思维,并微妙地改变我们对当下的见解。除了“伟大的美国小说”或各种各样的言情小说(见朱迪斯·克兰茨的讣告),本刊推荐一种全然不同的夏日读物。对于未来的推测,哪怕只是牵强的推测,也能帮助人们以及机构应对未来。以下将指明三个地方带你们寻得最有意思的读本。

The first is scenario planning. This originated in the armed forces during the second world war and was pioneered in industry by Royal Dutch Shell, enabling it to react more quickly and effectively than rival oil firms to the oil shock of 1973. The central idea was to avoid betting everything on a single forecast and instead to test future projects and plans against a set of plausible scenarios. Mapping out several futures, deciding how to respond to them and identifying the early signs that they might be coming about has been widely adopted by multinational firms, particularly after the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001. In that spirit, we publish our own annual set of speculative scenarios, “The World If”, in this week’s edition. What if America leaves nato, or antibiotics stop working, or Facebook switches itself off in Europe? These things may never happen, but it is mind-stretching to think about what you should do if they did.

首先是情景规划。情景规划起源于第二次世界大战的武装部队。荷兰皇家壳牌首创性地将其应用在行业里,让它能比其他石油公司更快速有效地应对1973年的石油危机。情景规划的核心理念在于,避免孤注一掷于某一种预测,同时对未来的种种预测进行检验,逆势运筹。多规划几种可能,敲定应对方案,明确发生先兆,这套流程已经很多跨国公司广泛采用,尤其自2001年“9·11”恐怖袭击事件发生以后更是如此。本着这样的精神,本刊在这期杂志中对未来展开了一系列年度预测——“如果这世界”。如果美国脱离北约怎么办?如果抗生素药物失效怎么办?如果Facebook抽身欧洲怎么办?这些事可能永远不会发生,但如果发生,我们又会如何应对呢?对此做出一番思考便有助于拓宽我们的思维。

Science fiction, a second realm of speculation, is perhaps a more familiar beach read. It is wrong to see sci-fi as chiefly predictive, however. Its contemplation of the future is often a commentary on the present: many sci-fi authors take current concerns, from robots to climate chaos to gender politics, to the logical extremes and consider their implications. As a result, sci-fi can play a useful role as a forward-scanning radar for technological, social and political trends. But sci-fi does directly shape the future in one concrete way: the tech industry is full of people trying to make it come true. Amazon’s Alexa voice-assistant is the talking computer from “Star Trek”; SpaceX lands its rockets on drone ships whose names are borrowed from Iain M. Banks’s “Culture” novels; an entire industry is trying to bring to life the virtual world of Neal Stephenson’s “Snow Crash”. Beyond these familiar tropes, Chinese sci-fi and Afrofuturism offer refreshingly different perspectives and possibilities.

第二类是科幻小说,它可能是更为常见的沙滩读物了。但将其视为纯预测性读本是不对的。它对未来的构想是对当下的评论:很多写科幻小说的作家都着眼于目前的热点问题,从机器人到气候混乱,再到性别政治,然后对其进行合理设想,将这些问题带向极端,再分析其可能带来的影响。这就让科幻小说能在检测科技、社会及政策未来发展方面发挥功用。然而,科幻小说的确以一种具体的方法塑造了未来发展,因为科技界的人们都在努力实现科幻小说中的情节。亚马逊的语音助手Alexa就是以《星际迷航》里会说话的电脑为原型的;SpaceX用来降落火箭的无人机名称都来源于伊恩·M.班克斯(Iain M. Banks)的《文明》系列小说;整个科技界都想要将尼尔·斯蒂芬森(Neal Stephenson)《雪崩》一书中的虚拟世界变成现实。除了那些常见的科幻情形,中国科幻小说与非洲未来主义则给人全新的角度和各种可能,令人耳目一新。

The last speculative category is corporate anthropology and trendspotting. Many large companies employ roving anthropologists to seek out “edge cases”: examples of emerging technologies and behaviour that have yet to become widely adopted, but have the potential to go global. As the sci-fi novelist William Gibson once put it, “the future is already here—it’s just unevenly distributed.” Two decades ago, Japanese schoolgirls led the way with modern smartphones, capable of taking pictures and downloading apps; we are all Japanese schoolgirls now. What’s next: the death of cash? Clothes made of mushrooms? Artificial meat? Trendspotters often get it wrong. But it is worth paying attention to what they think might be coming, just in case they are right.

最后一类是各类公司的人类学研究和社会趋势分析。许多大型公司会雇佣客座人类学家来挖掘一些边缘案例,就是一些新兴的技术和行为,虽然它们还未经广泛接受,但假以时日,便有可能风靡全球。科幻小说家吉布森曾经说过,未来早已来到,只是你还没有碰到。20年前,日本女学生率先使用现代智能手机,能拍照又能下载软件,我们现在都在步他们的后尘。接下来是什么:现金支付消失?用蘑菇制造衣服?人造肉?趋势分析的专家常会犯错,但他们认为的那些或将发生的事还是值得留心的,万一他们是对的呢?

The rewards of speculation

预测未来的益处

Pierre Wack, one of the gurus of scenario planning at Shell, once likened dealing with the future to shooting the rapids in a boat. You know the general direction of travel, but not the exact path, and the trick is to be able to respond quickly. Reading about possible futures can shift your perception of the present and help you understand what might be around the corner. It can also be fun. So why not give it a try, starting with the speculative scenarios in this issue: who knows what might happen?

壳牌有限公司的一位情景规划专家,皮埃尔·瓦克(Pierre Wack),曾经将应对未来比作劈波斩浪。如果你知道航行的大致方向却不清楚确切路线,那此行圆满的窍门就是拥有迅速的反应力。了解未来的种种可能不仅可以改变你对现在的看法,帮助你认识到未来可能发生的事,还大有乐趣。试试吧,先从阅读预测场景——“未来会发生什么”开始!

说明:译文出自中国高翻团队经济学人翻译队,经过学长学姐审校而成的译文,适合精读和翻译。经济学人是考试青睐的材料,认真学习,会受益匪浅。返回搜狐,查看更多

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