推荐三篇20220514期《经济学人》值得看的好文章

乱码与英文 2022-05-14 17:56
本期推荐:

  • Leaders. Surveillance at work. The professional panopticon
  • Bartleby. The woolliest words in business
  • Leaders. Genetic screening. Private letters, public promise

1

Leaders. Surveillance at work. The professional panopticon

难度指数 ★★☆

企业监视员工早已不是什么秘密,几乎每一个职场人,都处于监视之下,只是程度或方式有所不同。企业监视员工合理或合法吗?如果监视不可避免,那企业又该以什么程度或什么方式去监视呢?来听听《经济学人》怎么说吧!


为什么选这篇文章?

因为“企业监视员工”正是当下的热点问题,而这篇文章恰好说到点子上。

这篇文章标题里的 panopticon 一词我们此前在《当人民有了监视权力的眼睛》一文中讲过:

panopticon 原指“圆形监狱”,这是英国哲学家杰里米·边沁(Jeremy Bentham)提出的概念。在这个监狱中,监视者可以监视所有犯人,而犯人却无法知道他们是否受到监视。

此处作者用这个词,指的是企业可以轻松监视所有员工,而员工自己对此却并不知情。

企业可以怎么监视员工?说实话,现在的技术真是太强大了:

Calls and emails are monitored using ever more advanced software. Artificial intelligence (AI) is taking the snooping (窥探, 窥视) to new levels, tracking everything from Zoom-call rictus (龇牙咧嘴的怪相) and twitchy (焦躁不安的) keyboard strokes (敲击; 来回运动) to the consistent note (声调, 语气) of irritation (恼怒, 不耐烦, 生气) in your voice, in an attempt to assess your productivity and judge your state of mind (心态).

你跟谁通过话,你和谁发过邮件,公司知道得一清二楚;你视讯时的表情、打字的方式以及说话时的音调,公司也会精确记录。总之,你没有秘密;而公司监视你,是为了判断你的工作状态、产出和效率。

公司监视员工,合理或合法吗?有些监视行为,确实合理合法:

There are perfectly legitimate (合情理的, 有道理的; 合法的, 法律认可的) reasons for surveillance at work. Many jobs require monitoring for safety, security and compliance (遵从, 服从). Investment banks’ traders are tracked to prevent insider dealing (内幕交易), and the decisions of social-media moderators (调节人, 仲裁人) are traced and recorded to ensure consistency (前后一致) and accountability (为行为负责).

很多工作岗位确实需要被监视,这样才能防范风险,确保安全,并为公众负责。投行交易员处于监视之下,就会对内幕交易多几分忌惮;内容审核员处于监视之下,审帖时就会战战兢兢如履薄冰。像这样的监视,是合理且合法的。

不过,监视行为存在诸多隐患:

Yet it is easy to see the pitfalls ((可能出现的)问题, 隐患). There is a long history of those with power abusing (滥用; 虐待) those without in the name of compliance (遵从, 服从) and efficiency. ... Many studies link excessive (过多的, 过分的) individual surveillance to higher levels of stress. And if algorithms (算法) trained on biased (有偏见的, 有偏向的) data are used to make more decisions, the odds (可能性, 几率) of discrimination (区别对待, 歧视) will rise. One analysis found that AI systems consistently interpret black faces as being angrier than white ones.

这些隐患包括但不限于:企业滥用权力;无处不在的监视让员工不堪负荷,身心健康受到摧残;人工智能并没有那么智能,错误的数据和算法得出错误的结论,误伤好员工,加剧用工歧视。

《经济学人》说,企业的监视行为,不得越界:

A clear boundary (边界) between embracing new technologies on the one hand, and protecting workers on the other, has still to be drawn.

企业拥抱新技术,监视员工,提高生产效率,防范潜在风险,这无可厚非,但这不能以牺牲员工权益为代价。

《经济学人》说,如果企业要监视员工,那员工必须有知情权:

Individuals must be fully informed. Some firms now disclose (揭露) monitoring methods in the fine (优质的, 高品质的) print (印刷品) of their employee handbooks, and specify (明确说明) what data managers have access to. But that is no substitute (代替物) for consistent, easily understood information for staff—so they can decide how to behave at work, and whom they choose to work for.

只在员工手册中披露监视行为,这远远不够;企业应该正大光明、直截了当地告知员工,这样员工才能更好判断,是否要在这家企业工作。

同时,《经济学人》强调,企业的监视行为必须合理合法:

Employers should have a legitimate (合情理的, 有道理的; 合法的, 法律认可的) reason for surveillance. ... Firms should not have access to employees’ private devices, provided they are not used for work. And significant decisions made by algorithms (算法) should be subject (服从于, 取决于, 受...支配) to appeal (上诉, 申诉) and review (检查, 评估) by human beings.

企业没有监视员工私人设备的权力;员工应该享有申诉的权利。

明确边界并非易事,但政府该着手思考此事了:

Establishing clear guidelines is not easy, but qualms (疑虑, 担忧) over the potential abuse of surveillance will grow. It’s time to start drawing some lines.

更多相关内容,欢迎大家阅读原文。

2

Bartleby. The woolliest words in business

难度指数 ★★☆

滥用抽象词汇是职场中的常见现象,你肯定听过你的领导大谈特谈“创新”、“协作”、“弹性”、“意义”、“可持续发展”。《经济学人》说,这些抽象词汇,令人作呕。


为什么选这篇文章?

这篇文章的思想值得大家学习,而且,这篇文章的文采不错。

文章开篇的引入就耐人寻味:

Fire-fighting foam (泡沫) starves (挨饿→断绝, 得不到, 使缺乏) the flames of oxygen. A handful of overused words have the same deadening (令人麻木的; 使热情或想象力消退的) effect on people’s ability to think.

这些被滥用的抽象大词就像灭火泡沫一样,夺走了你大脑中的氧气。

这些大词随处可见:

These are words like “innovation”, “collaboration”, “flexibility”, “purpose” and “sustainability”. They coat (覆盖) consultants’ websites, blanket (覆盖) candidates’ CVs and spray (喷) from managers’ mouths.

Coat, blanket, spray from ... mouths 这几个动词或表达,形象生动有画面感;作者没有写“无处不在”这四个字,但读完这句话,我们就知道抽象大词无处不在。

为什么抽象大词会无处不在?因为它们全都是废话:

These words are ubiquitous (无所不在的) in part because they are so hard to argue against. Who really wants to be the person making the case (理论, 论据) for silos (各自为政)? Which executive secretly thirsts (渴望, 渴求) to be chief stagnation (停滞, 不发展) officer? Is it even possible to have purposelessness (无目的, 无目标) as a goal? 

有谁会公开表明自己支持各自为政呢?有谁想当“首席停滞官”呢?怎么可能有目标是毫无意义的呢?这三个反问,分别对应了“协作”、“创新”和“意义”。

使用模糊的抽象大词有很多弊端:

Woolliness (模糊) is the enemy of accuracy as well as utility (功用, 效用). ... The lack of precision (准确度, 确切性) opens the door to grandstanding (哗众取宠, 作秀) and greenwashing (漂绿, 环保作假). ... Woolliness (模糊) also smothers (扼杀, 压制, 清除) debate about whether you can have too much of a good thing.

模糊不仅无用,而且具有欺骗性,刻意用模糊词汇的人,有作秀或漂绿的嫌疑。同时,模糊还遏制人们去思考,某个要素过多,是否真是一件好事。

作者以“创新”为例,解释过多的创新,反而会让消费者丧失兴趣:

Take “innovation”, for example. Too much innovation can be a turn-off (使人扫兴或倒胃口的事物) for customers. A recent paper looks at the effect of perceived novelty on the response of audiences to films. The researchers find that there is a sweet spot (最佳击球点) in experimentation, where films are distinctive enough to pique (激起, 引起) curiosity but not so radical that they up-end (颠倒) expectations. In that space between “Home Alone 4” and “Tenet” lie the real moneymaking opportunities.

消费者不喜欢一成不变的产品,但更不喜欢“面目全非”的产品。对于创作者来说,创新要适度。《小鬼当家4》是部炒冷饭的电影,观众不买账;诺兰的《信条》创意十足,可观众却跟不上节奏。在这两个极端中间,存在一个“最佳击球点”,如果你的创新程度能让消费者感到舒服,那你就能赚大钱。

过多的创新,也会令部分企业职员感到厌烦:

Innovation can also be trying (令人恼火的, 令人厌烦的) for employees. Researchers recently looked at factors that predicted high levels of attrition (人员流失) among companies’ workforces. To their surprise, they found that employees were more likely to leave firms—like Tesla and Nvidia—with high levels of innovation. The authors hypothesise that the long hours and high pressure that typify (是…的典型, 代表) innovative cultures can lead to higher staff turnover (人员流动率).

刻意强调创新的企业,工作压力往往更大,工作时间往往更长,这会让部分员工无所适从,从而离开公司。因此,那些以创新而闻名的公司,往往有着更高的人员流动率。

除了“创新”外,文中也解释了为什么过多的“协作”和“弹性”可能会不好。如果仔细思辨,这些看似正确的模糊词汇,可能都经不起推敲。

3

Leaders. Genetic screening. Private letters, public promise

难度指数 ★★☆

近年来,基因测序的价格不断降低,为小孩检测基因的父母也越来越多。基因检测有什么益处和风险?来听听《经济学人》怎么说吧!


为什么选这篇文章?

《这项技术将把人类带进新时代!》这篇文章中讲的基因编辑技术一样,基因测序也是生物科技领域里的重要发展方向,大家有必要了解。

同基因编辑不同的是,基因测序已经逐渐走进寻常百姓家了:

Twenty years after the first human genome (基因组; 全部基因) was mapped (绘制图谱), the price of whole-genome sequencing (排序, 测序) has fallen to a point where it could, in rich countries at least, be offered routinely to newborns.

上世纪90年代初,学界开始涉足“人类基因组计划”;传统的测序方式是利用光学测序技术,这种方法价格不菲。二十多年来,技术不断发展,如今芯片取代了传统激光镜头,单次检测成本也降到了普通家庭可以承受的范围。

基因测序的益处不言而喻:

Early diagnosis brings with it the possibility of early treatment. ... Sequencing (排序, 测序) children’s genomes at birth would also create opportunities to develop treatments for rare conditions that are typically discovered too late and in small numbers.

一句话:早发现,早预防,早治疗。

基因测序的危害也显而易见:

Such a powerful new technology creates new dangers. Widespread screening (评估, 检查) for thousands of potentially harmful genes may be counterproductive (产生相反效果的, 事与愿违的, 适得其反的): some results may worry parents unnecessarily, because some genetic variations (变动, 变异), though occasionally indicative (指示的, 标志的, 表明的, 表示的) of disease, are not strongly so. ... Adult-onset illnesses pose (形成, 构成) a different dilemma—a reasonable position is that it should be up to the children themselves, once grown, to decide whether they want to look at their genomic information. ... A further concern is that data will not be kept secure, and may be leaked or otherwise misused at some point in the future.

危险包括但不限于:部分疾病无法准确判断,家长为此忧心忡忡,得不偿失适得其反;如果疾病在成年后才发病,那家长是否该等孩子长大后,让她/他自行决断该如何处理?基因测序会产生大量基因数据,这些数据被滥用怎么办?

出于这些潜在危害,《经济学人》建议,基因测序推广起来必须很保守:

One lesson is to start conservatively (保守地). ... Control of the data should be passed on to children at adulthood. Finding the time to educate parents, so they can make good decisions, is essential.

技术要保守推广;小孩成年后,应该自行决定如何处理自己的基因或疾病;教育家长,让家长学习相关知识,也至关重要。

更多内容,欢迎大家自行阅读原文。


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职业是老师,身份是学生。

If fashion fails to follow me, I don't care.



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