美國找錯了道 | 紐約時報

英文聯播2018-07-21 19:41:46

How to Combat China’s Rise in Tech: Federal Spending, Not Tariffs

At the heart of the trade war between the United States and China lies a profound and unsettling question: Who should control the key technologies that will rule tomorrow?

和中國貿易戰,其核心是一個深刻且令人不安的問題:誰將控制明天的關鍵


It is unsettling because, right now, the trade war offers a dead-end choice. On one side, a handful of gigantic American corporations look destined to become the key players in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and advanced manufacturing and energy technologies. Or it could be a slightly larger handful of gigantic American and Chinese corporations, with healthy input from the Chinese government.

這令人不安,原因是現在的貿易戰提供不了答案。或是幾家美國大公司註定成為人工智能、量子計算和尖端製造業及能源技術的關鍵玩家,抑或是更多幾家美國和中國公司,原因是中國的有益投入。


These advances could alter everything about how we live and work. Shouldn’t some other entity, like maybe a democratically elected government, have some input in their rollout?

這些進步會改變我們一切生活和工作方式。難道某些實體,例如民選政府,不該有所投入嗎?


Here’s a crazy idea. The United States could outline a plan for and put money behind an alternative vision for the global technology industry. If executed carefully, such a plan could stimulate wider competition in tech, and allow for broader economic and social gains. Perhaps a whole set of new companies, rather than just the giants you’re used to, could plan a role in the future.

這是一個瘋狂的想法。美國應該為一個全球技術產業的不同願景制定計劃並進行投資。如果執行得當,這種計劃可以引發科技業更廣泛的競爭,獲得更多的經濟和社會收益。可能有一大群新公司而不僅是現有的巨頭,能在未來發揮角色。


Does this sound un-American? It shouldn’t. Not long ago, when Americans faced the possibility of being left behind by other countries’ advancing tech, the federal government stepped in with nearly endless resources to stimulate the creation of vast new industries.

這聽起來不怎麼美國嗎?並非如此。不久前,當美國發現自己可能被其他國家的先進技術超越時,聯邦政府動用了一切資源激發大量新產業的出現。


Thanks to government funding, we got the nuclear industry, the space program, the aviation industry and the internet, which was initially sponsored by the Defense Department. Just about every key component in a smartphone, from the battery to GPS, is based on research first done for the American government. It’s not an understatement to say that, for better or worse, the American government invented the modern world.

正是由於政府資助,我們有了核產業、空間項目、航空工業和互聯網,一開始這都是國防部資助的。手機中所有核心組件,從電池到GPS,都是美國政府發起的研究。或好或壞,美國政府發明了現代世界。

But today in the United States, venture capitalists and multinational corporations lead the development of — and will own — tomorrow’s technologies. Meanwhile, the Chinese government is playing the role the United States once did. Over the past decade, China has pushed an aggressive series of plans meant to gain dominance in technological areas it considers crucial to the global economy.

但如今的美國,風險投資和跨國公司引領著明天技術的發展,並擁有明天的技術。另一方面,中國政府正在發揮美國政府曾經發揮的角色。過去十年間,中國推動一系列凌厲計劃,目的是在對全球經濟很關鍵的技術領域獲得主導權。


One program, Made in China 2025, outlines a road map for China to become a world leader in advanced manufacturing (things like robotics, aircraft and machine tools). Another plan calls for China to achieve dominance in artificial intelligence. Based on similar initiatives, the Chinese have already seen big wins. 

《中國製造2025》項目規劃了中國成為世界先進製造業領袖的路線圖,例如機器人、飛機和機器工具等。另一項計劃呼籲中國在人工智能領域實現主導。在這些類似規劃下,中國已經獲得了巨大成功。


Americans invented the modern solar power industry, but thanks to Chinese government intervention, China’s solar industry leads the world. So does its high-speed rail system.

美國發明瞭現代的光伏產業,但在中國政府的推動下,中國的光伏產業引領世界,還有高速鐵路系統。


The Trump administration objects to China’s tech visions. It has cited Chinese government support for tech as a primary reason for imposing tariffs on Chinese goods. But its objections only put the disconnect in stark relief. If the United States is worried that the Chinese will win the future because they’re actually spending money to win the future, why aren’t we doing the same?

政府反對中國的技術願景,他將中國政府支持技術作為對中國產品徵收關稅的一個主要理由。可這種抗議更突顯了這種脫節。如果美國擔心中國因為花了錢所以贏得未來,美國為什麼不花呢?


“It is a waste that we are not using the rise of China as a galvanizing cry to invest more in science and technology in America,” said Yasheng Huang, an economist who studies Chinese politics and business at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management.

“我們不把中國的崛起當做動力,投資美國的科技,這是一種浪費,”麻省理工學院斯隆管理學院研究中國政治的經濟學家黃亞生說。


He has argued that rather than imposing tariffs to respond to programs like Made in China 2025, Americans should respond as we did in 1957, when we sharply increased government spending on science after the Soviet Union launched the world’s first man-made satellite, Sputnik 1.

他認為與其通過施加關稅來應對《中國製造2025》,美國應該像1957年一樣,當時蘇聯發射了世界第一顆人造衛星,美國就大幅增加政府科學投入。


You might argue that the modern world bears little resemblance to the Sputnik era. Today, we have vibrant tech industry. Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and lots of venture capitalists are already investing heavily in the future. Why should the government step in? But that is a shortsighted view.

你可能會說現代世界和第一顆人造衛星那個時代大不相同了。今天,我們有蓬勃的科技業。亞馬遜、蘋果、谷歌、臉書、微軟和眾多風險投資者,他們已經在大筆投資未來。可政府為什麼就不行呢?這是一種短視。


Mr. Huang points out that the established tech industry is mainly funding the most immediately applicable technologies. “Life science and software get a lot of money,” he said.

黃先生指出,成功的科技業主要投資立即可以應用的技術。“生命科學和軟件拿到很多錢,”他說。


More speculative technologies that don’t offer any obvious payoff aren’t as lucky. “Everything else is underfunded,” Mr. Huang said, noting that as a percentage of the overall economy, federal spending on research and development has fallen since the 1970s.

沒有任何明顯回報的更多試探性技術就沒那麼走運了。“所有一切都資金不足,”黃先生指出自上世紀七十年代以來,聯邦政府研發支出佔經濟總量的比例一直在下降。


I reached out to Michael Kratsios, President Trump’s deputy assistant for technology policy, to ask about the role the president ascribes to public funding in the advancement of tech. 

我聯繫特朗普技術政策副助理邁克爾·卡拉特西歐斯,詢問總統怎麼看政府投資在發展技術中的作用。


His office declined an interview, but a spokesman noted that the omnibus budget deal that Mr. Trump signed in March outlined a significant increase in federal spending on research and development.

卡拉特西歐斯辦公室拒絕了採訪,但一位發言人說,特朗普3月簽署了一個包含多個項目的預算案,要大幅增加聯邦政府對研發的投入。


That’s true; the deal called for the biggest increase in federal research spending since the Obama administration’s 2009 stimulus bill. It’s worth noting, though, that Mr. Trump signed the bill under duress — he tweeted that he would “NEVER sign another bill like this again” — and that in most areas the White House’s initially proposed budget called for far less.

沒錯,這是奧巴馬政府2009年刺激法案以來最大規模的聯邦研發支出增長。但請注意,特朗普被迫簽署,他發推文說,自己“再也不會簽署這種法案”了,在多數領域,白宮最初提議的預算都少了很多。


Other aspects of Mr. Trump’s agenda are putting American tech at a disadvantage, too. While China is investing in solar power, we’re propping up industries that are politically important to Mr. Trump, like coal and, perhaps soon, soybeans. Funding the past while your adversary invests in the future is probably not the best way to stay ahead economically.

特朗普其他議程也讓美國科技業處於劣勢。中國投資光伏,我們卻支持政治上對特朗普很重要的產業,如煤炭,可能不久後還有大豆。你為過去投資,對手卻為未來投資,這可能並非在經濟上向前看的最好方式。


But beyond simply opening the spigot to more money, we should push the American government to create an alternative to China’s vision for tech dominance for another reason: It would be a way to develop a more accessible tech industry.

但不僅是要打開水龍頭拿更多的錢,我們還應推動美國政府建立與技術主導願景不同的方案,原因是這是發展更平等的科技業的一種方式。


One huge problem with today’s tech business is the unequal way it distributes its gains. Tech advances have created immense wealth, but much of the money has gone to just a small number of people clustered around two cities on the West Coast. 

今天的科技產業中,一大問題是收益分配不平等。技術進步產生了巨大財富,但大部分錢都進了西海岸兩個城市一小撮人的腰包。


Now — as we’re suddenly realizing the power that tech giants can exercise over politics, news, our psyches and other basic aspects of democracy — there’s a real question about whether they face any meaningful challenge to their rise.

現在,我們突然認識到科技巨頭在影響政治、新聞、我們的思想和民主社會的其他重要因素,他們的崛起是否遭遇到任何真正的挑戰,這是一個認真的問題。


Government spending can help there, too. When the government creates tech, its gains tend to be spread widely. The internet is the open system it is today because it was sponsored by the government, not private telecom giants like AT&T. The GPS satellite system is available to anyone who wants to use it because taxpayers paid for it.

在這裡,政府支出也可以有所用處。政府創造技術時,其收益會讓人民共享。今天的互聯網是一個開放系統,原因就在於它是政府投資的,而不是AT&T這樣的私人電信巨頭投資的。GPS衛星系統誰想用誰用,原因在於納稅人付了錢。


The same can be true of much of what we invent tomorrow. If the American government decided to plan for the future, rather than sit on the sideline as it came to pass, it could spur the development of the same kind of decentralized, open tech infrastructure that fostered today’s miracles.

未來的科技發明也是如此。如果美國政府決定為未來做計劃,就不該袖手旁觀,坐等機會飄過,而應該促進這種去中心化、開放的技術基礎設施得以發展,正是這些設施創造了今天的奇蹟。


Many of the technologies that will dominate the future could change life in substantial ways. Artificial intelligence and robotics could reshape labor markets and much else about how Americans work. Energy technologies might transform your city. Yet we really have no good way to prepare for these changes.

許多主導未來的技術都將在很多方面改變生活。人工智能和機器人將重造就業市場,以及美國人工作的方式。能源技術將改變我們的城市。但我們沒有為這些變化做好準備。


For several decades, in the United States, we’ve been in the mode of reacting to technological change rather than anticipating and planning for it. As I’ve argued before, this puts us in a constant state of what the futurist Alvin Toffler called “future shock” — a state of ever-present unease about what technology has wrought, which is the truest emotion of 2018.

美國幾十年來,我們都在對技術變革做出反應,而非預測技術變革並做出計劃。我以前就說過,這讓我們永遠出在未來學家艾爾文·托夫勒所說的“未來衝擊”之中,對技術帶來的變化永遠感到不適,這正是2018年的真實情感。


A federal plan to win this or that industry isn’t guaranteed to work. But at least it will prompt us, as a country, to think about what’s coming.

一項去贏得這個產業或那個產業的聯邦計劃並不保證奏效。但至少會促使我們作為一個國家去思考未來。



最好的和最壞的都已過去

作者:南方人物週刊主編

噹噹 廣告
購買

《美女與野獸》電影日記(第二版)

作者:(法)科克託 著

噹噹 廣告
購買

經濟學超市

作者:《經濟學人》雜誌社 編,林虹 譯

噹噹 廣告
購買


閱讀原文

TAGS: