【哈珀杂志】失焦年代:如果我们过去是独狼,如今就是蝼蚁

 

当下,发达的搜索引擎、社交媒 体让我们不经意间与本无意联结的东西建立起了联系。福斯特的名言“唯有联结”是否还适用?

 

失焦年代-如果我们曾是独狼,如今就是蝼蚁

 

【哈珀杂志】失焦年代:如果我们过去是独狼,如今就是蝼蚁

 

译者:徐唱 文诗韵

校对:李林治

编辑:王按时

 

Driven to Distraction

与某物相连,与某人失联

 

本文选自 The Harper’s Magazine | 取经号原创翻译

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“Only connect” are the words that E. M. Forster is most famous for. What they actually meant to him, however, often fades behind a vague notion that his was a boosterish, pro-connection position. The phrase comes up when Margaret Schlegel, the protagonist of his novel Howards End (1910), drifts in reverie after accepting a marriage proposal. “Only connect!” we read. “That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height.” Margaret hopes to turn her industrialist fiancé into a person who knows what he feels and questions what he thinks—into a person possessed of self-awareness and empathy, which in the case of the widower Henry Wilcox represents a major remodeling job.

“唯有联结” 是E. M. 福特斯最有名的警句。然而这 句话对于他的真正意义往往由于他激进分子且倾向联结的身份变得模糊。当小说《霍华德庄园》的女主角玛格丽特·施莱格尔收到求婚、沉浸在幻想中时,这句话便出现了。“唯有联结!”小说中写道:“那是她 冗长说教的核心。只有将 平淡和激情结合,两者才会一同升华,人类的 爱才会到达巅峰。”玛格丽 特希望能把她的实业家未婚夫变成一个自知自省、拥有自 我意识和同情心的人——正如书中的鳏夫亨利·威尔考 克斯所做的那样。

exalt /ɪɡ’zɔːlt/ to make sb rise to a higher rank or position, sometimes to one that they do not deserve 提拔,提升

 

Forster describes Henry as an imperialist: that is, a person who tends to destroy the things to which he is connected. On the way to his newly acquired Shropshire estate, one of the motorcars bringing Margaret and the other guests flattens a cat in the road. After briefly pondering the insurance implications, the others intend to zoom right on. Margaret, however, leaps out of the car to console the child whose cat it was. Afterward, she reflects on their deep disconnection from the landscape: “They had no part with the earth and its emotions. They were dust, and a stink, and cosmopolitan chatter, and the girl whose cat had been killed had lived more deeply than they.”

福斯特 将亨利描述成一个侵略主义者——一个试 图毁灭所有与自己有联系的事物的人。在去往 他新购的什罗普庄园的路上,一辆载 着玛格丽特和其他宾客的汽车压扁了路上的一只猫咪。在短暂 地思考了关于保险的事宜之后,其它人都想直接离开。而玛格丽特跳出了车,并安慰 起了那个失去了猫的孩子。之后,她有关 其他人对自然的疏离进行了反思:“他们不属于这片土地,也不与 其分享同样的感情。他们是尘土、是臭气,也是毫 无特别的碎碎念者。那个失 去猫的女孩儿比他们联结更深。”

flatten /’flæt(ə)n/ to destroy or knock down a building, tree, etc. 摧毁,推倒,弄倒

 

The novel’s title comes from an old farmhouse, Howards End, which pre-sides like a god over the lives of the protagonists, sheltering and orienting them and perhaps even disciplining them. Forster idealizes the pastoral, the slow, the natural, the deliberately focused, and insists that the variety and bustle of urban life is an affliction. “The more people one knows,” says Margaret, “the easier it becomes to replace them. It’s one of the curses of London.” You might just as easily postulate Forster’s ethos as “only disconnect.” Indeed, a host of recent editorials on technology’s damage to our minds have used that phrase as their title without quite grasping that Forster meant both his original phrase and its inverse.

小说的 标题来源于一个老旧的农场——霍华德庄园。这个标 题像是上帝一样在引领着小说人物的命运,庇护、指引,甚至是惩戒他们。福斯特将乡村式的、缓慢的、自然的、精打细 算的生活理想化了;他坚信 城市生活的多样性和快节奏是一种折磨。玛格丽特说,“你认识越多的人,他们越容易被替代。这是伦敦的诅咒之一。”你可能 会轻易地认定福斯特的信念是“唯有断连”。现在许 多关于科技对我们大脑造成伤害的社评实际上也都引用了福特斯的这句“唯有联结”。但是,他们没 有真正理解福特斯的原文“唯有联结”,抑或是它的反义词“唯有断连”意味着什么。

affliction /ə’flɪkʃ(ə)n/pain and suffering or sth that causes it折磨;痛苦

 

In both Howards End and a dystopian story he published a year earlier, “The Machine Stops,” Forster pro-poses that the only way to connect to the people closest to us, to the earth, and to our own interior lives is to dis-connect from other things. The story is set in a future that bears an alarming resemblance to our own present: people live alone in technologically sophisticated cells that provide for their bodily needs, like embryonic bees in their honeycombs. One day, as Forster’s title suggests, the machine stops—and the result is both fatal and liberatory.

在《霍华德庄园》和早一 年出版的反乌托邦小说《大机器停止》中,福特斯 提议我们与他人、地球、以及我 们内心联结的唯一办法,便是与 其他所有东西断连。《大机器停止》的故事设定在未来,但对现 在的我们同样有警示作用:人类在 能够提供他们生理需求的超高科技房间中,如同蜂 窝中的幼蜂一般孤独地生存着。有一天,就像福 斯特的标题所预设的那样,机器停止了。其带来的结果,既是致命的,也是通向自由的。

 

Thanks to our own megamachine, it often seems to me that we have become a different species altogether, as though before social media and smartphones we were some-thing roaming in relative solitude, like wolverines. Back then, our lives were full of gaps. During the journeys between home and school and work, for example, we were on our own, self-reliant, self-directed. In some ways, we accepted more uncertainty in our lives, and in others, we operated with more inflexibility—without smartphones, you couldn’t renegotiate your arrival time over and over, or suddenly decide that you wanted green olives and not black. You had to live with black olives.

感谢我们的超级机器,我常觉 得人类变成了全然不同的物种:就像在 拥有社交媒体和智能手机之前,我们是孤独的流浪者——如狼獾。那时候,我们的 生活中充满了空白。譬如,在家与学校/办公的两点一线间,我们只有自己:只有自我依赖、自我引导。从某些方面来说,现在的 我们拥抱了生命中更多的可能性;而从另一些方面来说,我们变得更为僵化:离开了手机,你不能 一遍又一遍的重制你的到达时间,也不能 临时决定你要绿的而不是黑的橄榄。离开了手机,你买了 黑橄榄就无法改变。

 

If we were wolverines then, we are ants now, touching antennae repeatedly, checking in constantly as we laud the conventional Instagram beauty or shoot down the unresolved analysis. The language that has emerged recognizes this collective, with terms like “hive mind” and “swarm intelligence.” Even our ability to find our way through a given landscape has been outsourced to devices.

如果我们曾是独狼,那如今我们就是蝼蚁——重复地触碰触角,不停地点击称赞千篇一律的Instagram美照、或是解 决未解决的事项。语言已 经反应了这种集体性,例如衍生出的新词“蜂群思维”及“集群智能”。甚至像 在指定地图中找路的能力,我们都 外包给了手中的设备。

laud /lɔːd/to praise sb/sth赞扬;赞美;称赞

 

This is what Silicon Valley has brought us. And throughout the rise of that economic and political power-house, connection has been celebrated as a wonder and a gift. We heard endlessly of networking and interactivity and the web and hyperlinks as if they were self-evidently good and liberatory things. These panegyrics were issued without anything being said about the vulnerabilities entailed or the potential virtues of not being connected. Many of the recent “only disconnect” editorials did finally raise this issue, but they advocated mostly for personal disconnection, not for dismantling or limiting the networks that run the world. Forster’s point, however, goes beyond the merely personal. When you connect to some things, he suggests, you disconnect from others, and those choices are not only critical in shaping our lives but are sometimes a form of resistance.

这就是 硅谷给我们的东西。由于经 济和政治能力的提升,这种联 结被誉为奇迹和礼物。我们不 断地听到关于关系网、互动、联系网、超链接的话题,就仿佛 它们毫无疑问是带来自由的好东西。然而,这些称赞没有考 虑到联结的任何弊端或是断连的任何好处。最近许多“唯有断连”的社评 终于提到了这些问题,但它们 大多提倡个人断连,而非整 个互联世界的解体或限制。然而,福斯特 的论点是超出个人范畴的。他提出,当你与 一些事物联结时,你就会 与其他事物断连;这些选 择不仅对我们生活产生了巨大的影响,同时也 成为了某样阻力。

panegyric /pænə’dʒɪrɪk/a speech or piece of writing praising sb/sth颂词;颂文

 

We are talking about a blessing, a curse, and a profound tangle. Every topic is a knot on a net, or a network. Yank on it, and you tug on the other topics it relates to, and each of them also exists at the center of another nexus of connections. You can’t explain something by isolating it, because its meaning comes from its context. Yet trying to understand context easily replicates the distractedness so often associated with the internet: we drift along as link leads to link, or social media throws up topics in no particular order, or search engines churn the waters and whatever we manage to bring up from the depths is algorithmically weighted to serve agendas other than our own. Distraction could be described as a phenomenon in which you connect, inadvertently or absent-mindedly, to more things than you in-tended. The noise drowns out the signal.

我们现 在讨论的是一种福赐、一种诅咒、一种纠葛。每个话 题都是网络或互联网上的一个结。当你猛力拽那个结时,你同时 也拉扯到了它所联结的其他话题,而每个 新的话题同时又存在于另一个互联网络的中心,由此周而复始。你不能 单独地解释某样东西,因为其 意义衍生于它的背景脉络。但是,当我们 试图去解释背景脉络时,我们的注意力轻易地分散了,而这种 注意力分散常与网络相关:我们从 一个链接转向另一个链接,社交网 站无序地给我们抛出一个又一个的话题,每当我 们想搜索一些深刻的东西时,搜索引 擎所呈现的都是为了满足某种规则而产生的计算结果,而非满足我们。分心可 以被描述为一种现象:你不经 意间与你本无意联结的东西建立起了联系。杂音吞没了有效信息。

replicate /’replɪkeɪt/to copy sth exactly 复制;(精确地)仿制

 

Proposing, for example, that Uber’s labor problems stem from tech’s wage-suppressing tendencies could lead you to Spotify’s notorious underpayment of musicians or Amazon’s attack on publishing or Airbnb’s impact on housing markets and hotel employees. From there, you could circle back to Uber’s other human rights violations, from massive internal misogyny to fairly alarming invasions of privacy. Or you could leapfrog over to the limousine driver who shot himself in front of city hall in Manhattan early this year because he could no longer make a living in the trade he’d been practicing for decades, and then you might think about driverless cars and the ways that tech is resolutely eliminating the human factor, also known as jobs, from so many sectors of the economy.

例如,当提议Uber劳工问 题来源于科技产业的薪酬抑制趋向时,你可能会想到Spotify低薪打 发音乐人这一臭名昭著的事件,或是Amazon对出版机制的伤害,又或是Airbnb对房产 市场和酒店雇员的影响。从那儿,你又可以绕回Uber其他的人权侵犯——从大规模的内部厌女情结到由侵 犯隐私带来的一定担忧。又或者,你可以 跳跃到今年早些时候,高级轿 车司机在曼哈顿市政厅前面饮弹自尽的悲剧,因为他 尽管做了几十年,但再也 无法在现在的潮流中安身立命。然后,你可能 会想到无人驾驶汽车,然后想 到在经济体系的各个方面,科技正 从各行各业逐渐蚕食着人类因素——也就是 我们平时所说的工作。

misogyny /mɪ’sɒdʒəni/a hatred of women, as a sexually defined group 厌女情结

 

If you talk about how Facebook gathers and sells data, you could go on to discuss the very specific data that was sold to Cambridge Analytica and the Trump campaign in the 2016 election. That in turn raises the links between Cambridge Analytica, which one former employee has called a “psycho-logical warfare firm,” and Silicon Val-ley’s own sinister data-mining company, Palantir. The latter was founded in part by Peter Thiel (destroyer of Gawker, early investor in Facebook, cofounder of PayPal), and its “predictive policing” technology has been a boon to racial profiling in cities such as New Orleans. Thiel in turn is connected to Rebekah Mercer, the daughter of Cambridge Analytica’s billionaire owner and a major backer of Trump and Breitbart.

如果你讨论Facebook是如何 收集和贩卖数据,你可能 会接着讨论那些卖给剑桥分析公司和2016年川普 竞选的具体数据。然后,这些又 会让你考虑剑桥分析公司和帕兰特科技公司之间的关系:前者被前雇员称为“心理战公司”,而后者 是所属硅谷的数据恶意挖掘公司。帕兰特 由高客传媒的毁灭者,Facebook的早期投资人,贝宝公 司的合伙人皮特·泰尔创立。该公司的“预知执法”技术已 经成为新奥尔良等城市中种族定性*的福星。接着,泰尔又和罗伯特·默瑟有关,她是剑 桥分析公司身价百万的老板的女儿,也是川 普以及布赖特巴特新闻网的主要赞助人。

*种族定性:又译为种族貌相、种族脸谱化、種族貌相判定,指执法 机关在判断某一类特定的犯罪或违法行为的犯罪嫌疑人身份将种族或族群特征列入考虑范围,进而可 能导致在破案过程中更多地怀疑某一族群的作案嫌疑。

 

Each of these problems is connected to other problems, and trying to under-stand any single one of them entangles you in loose threads and associative and (more to the point) literal networks. The broad issue of privacy, for example, leads quite naturally to the National Security Agency as well as to Google, and to how Apple phones track us all if we don’t turn off the appropriate setting. For that matter, you could cut to the chase and explore how five of the biggest tech companies—Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft—are trying to create what Siva Vaidhyanathan, the director of the Center for Media and Citizenship at the University of Virginia, calls the “operating system of our lives.” That is, they are endeavoring to enmesh us in their programs and tools and products. Taken to its logical conclusion, that means a world in which we connect only through them, in which we are absolutely surrounded by their managing, filtering, information-gathering, information-shaping, and moneymaking technologies.

每个问 题之间环环相连,尝试去 理解其中的任何一个,都会让你脱线,陷入联想的(更确切地来说)发散的网络中。例如隐私,这一涵盖广泛的问题,就会自 然让人联想到国家安全局、谷歌以及苹果手机——如果不关闭一些设置,苹果设 备便可以追踪我们。对于这个问题,你可以直奔主题,探索五大科技巨头-亚马逊、脸书、谷歌、苹果和微软,是如何创造出了一个——据弗吉 尼亚大学传媒与公民研究中心主任Siva Vaidhyanathan形容的——“操纵我 们工作生活的系统”。 它们正 努力让我们陷入科技程序、工具和 产品所织就的密网中。这些科技有着管制、过滤、信息收 集生成和盈利的功能——也就是说——当我们 只能通过它们与世界联结,就必会 被这些科技所紧紧包裹。

entangle /ɪn’tæŋɡ(ə)l/to involve sb in a difficult or complicated situation使卷入;使陷入

 

Distraction is far from the only price we are paying, though it is slowly but surely diminishing our attention spans. Key elements of modern life are connected in ways they were not before, including the global financial system, energy infrastructure, weapons and security systems, and voter rolls. That vulnerability is another phenomenon that is largely invisible, or at least over-looked by the general public, and trying to probe it leads into more tangles.

尽管失 焦慢慢损害着我们的关注视野,但我们 所付出的代价远不止于此。现代生 活正在被全球金融体系、能源设施、武器和安保系统、选民投 票等要素以新的方式联结起来。而在我们看不见的,或者至 少是被大众所忽视的某处,我们身 处的现代生活正变得脆弱可伤,向内探 索会导致更多混乱。

 

For example, on May 12 of last year, more than 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries were infected thanks to a bug in older versions of Microsoft Windows. The cost of the so-called WannaCry ransomware at-tacks was estimated to be in the billions, but the impact was more than monetary. The United Kingdom’s National Health Service was taken offline by the hackers, who also hit numerous hospitals in the country, crashing computers, canceling operations, and forcing providers to turn away nonemergency patients. In some cases, the attackers also extorted ransom payments from their victims, and to avoid those payments being tracked, they demanded payment in the virtual currency bitcoin. The success of the attack, in other words, hinged on precisely who was accessible and who was not, in ways that don’t make the new connectedness seem like a boon, exactly.

例如去年的5月12日,微软Windows老版本的一个bug致使超过150个国家,逾200,000万台电脑被感染。这场由WannaCry 蠕虫病 毒造成的网络攻击预计损失数十亿,其影响 却远非金钱数额所能计算。英国国 家卫生局网络因黑客攻击崩溃,导致全 国大量医院被迫取消手术,并将非 紧急情况的病人转移。在另一些案例中,黑客还 趁机敲诈受害者,为了避免付款被追踪,他们还 要求被害者用虚拟货币比特币付款。换句话说,骇客入侵成功与否,依赖的是谁可接近,而谁不可以。而这使 得新的连接看起来不再像是一种福利。

 

For that matter, almost all of the Putin regime’s interference in the 2016 election was made possible by the internet. This includes the troll factories and the bot armies and the advertisements trying to shape opinion on Face-book and Twitter, the attempted invasion of voter rolls in twenty-one states, and the release of fake news into a chaotic system in which people no longer comprehend where information comes from and how to filter it.

就此而言,互联网 也使得普京干涉2016年选举一事变成可能。普京团 队发布了大量煽动性文章,雇佣水军,买下广告,在脸书 和推特上引导舆论,并试图入侵21个州的选票系统,他们还 在人们无法辨别和筛选信息来源的系统中放入了大量虚假新闻。

 

That Russia also appears to have hacked and sabotaged the Ukrainian energy grid a few years ago is a warning that hasn’t been heeded much, nor has the possibility that all this amounts to cyberwar and that we’re in the middle of one, or several. We do not know where we are in many ways. The public and even the politicians we elected are not making most of the decisions about how our world is morphing, nor are they even fully cognizant of how it is, and that’s a form of disconnection that should be terrifying.

俄罗斯 骇客几年前蓄意破坏乌克兰输电网的事件是一个警告,这个警 告既没有引起太多警惕,也没有 被算作是我们身处的一场,或者几场网络战争。我们对 自己身处何处全然无知。公众、甚至是 我们选举出的政客,都没有 为这个世界如何改变做出大部分的决策,他们甚至无法完全了解。这样的一种‘失联’是我们该感到恐惧的。

cognizant /’kɒɡnɪzənt/ having knowledge of something 认识

 

One evening not long ago, I dined with two people who under-stand where we are better than almost anyone else. One was Eva Galperin, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s director of cybersecurity (“I hunt governments”), and the other was Leigh Honeywell, who works with the American Civil Liberties Union on security and privacy issues. Talking to these young powerhouses about the world of digital connection was a bit like bounding onto a tennis court with Venus and Serena Williams. Acronyms and specialized terminology—air gaps, InfoSec, the Scunthorpe problem, griefers—flew be-tween them, and I scrambled to keep up.

不久前的一天晚上,我与可 能是对我们现在身处境况了解最清楚的两位专家共进晚餐。一位是Eva Galperin, 电子前 沿基金会的网络安全负责人,另一位是Leigh Honeywell, 供职于 美国公民权利联盟,负责安保与隐私问题。跟这两 位精力充沛的年轻人谈论数字世界的链接有点像和维纳斯、威廉姆 斯一起被绑着上网球场。缩略词和专业术语——气隙网络、信息安全、斯肯索普问题, 扰人行为——在他们之间来回穿梭,而我只 能吃力地跟上他们。

气隙网络(air-gap network):当政府,公共事 业与企业想要保护敏感的资料时,他们会 创造一种气隙网路(air-gap network),主要是 将资料储存在永不上网的电脑,以此来 保护资料免受骇客侵扰。电脑化的医疗设备,军事武 器以及重要的基础建设系统通常都会与网路完全分隔开来,就是为 了防止资料外泄。

斯肯索普问题(Scunthorpe Problem):是通过 垃圾邮件过滤器或搜索引擎阻止电子邮件,论坛帖子或搜索结果,因为它 们的文本包含与另一个(通常是淫秽)词汇共享的字母串。虽然计 算机可以轻松识别文档中的文本字符串,但广泛 的阻止规则可能会导致误报,从而导 致无辜的短语被阻止。

扰人行为(Griefing):指的是 利用游戏制作者在设计游戏机制时没想到的效果,刻意影 响其他玩家并使他们感到挫折,愤怒及 产生其他负面情绪的动作。扰人行 为和作弊是不同的。利用游 戏漏洞及错误和使用外挂可能会是扰人的举动,但是其 目的必须是刻意影响其他人的游玩过程,而不是 单纯地取得不公平的游戏优势。

 

Somewhere in there, Galperin made some remarks about the insecurity of medical devices that can be hacked, with fatal consequences, and mentioned that Dick Cheney’s pacemaker had been disconnected to prevent exactly that. We moved on to sex toys with similar operational pitfalls and some other gendered nastiness in the wired world. There was, they mentioned, a “smart vibrator” for couples that could be operated remotely, had text and chat features, and shared data with the manufacturer. Of course, it could be hacked, too, and the information the company collected was both extremely personal and inadequately secured, which led to a lawsuit and a $3.75 million settlement.

在晚餐中,Galperin提到医 疗器械的不安全性可使其被骇客攻击,并带来致命后果,Dick Cheney的心脏 起搏器为了预防这一问题就选择了切断连接。我们还 谈到了这个联结的世界背后一些关于性别的肮脏,包括像 性玩偶也有类似的操作隐患。他们还 提到了一种情侣专用的“智能按摩器”,可以远程操纵,带有文字和聊天功能,而且还 与制造商共享数据。当然,这种产 品同样可能被骇客攻击,而且由 于制造商对这种极端私人的数据保管不当,还引发了法律诉讼,并耗费了375万美金达成庭外和解。

pitfall /’pɪt.fɔːl/a danger or difficulty, especially one that is hidden or not obvious at first 隐患

 

The impact of connectivity on our intimate lives hardly stops there. We talked about revenge porn, which affects an enormous number of young women now that sexual relationships involve a lot of easily uploadable digital photographs. The images are often made by men replicating the iconography of online porn, and are displayed on websites specifically designed for such vengeful voyeurism. The day be-fore our meeting, a Briton was sentenced to thirty-two years in prison after using such images to blackmail forty-six people, many of them children and adolescents, into performing further acts of degradation for the camera. The genre, built on pain and humiliation, is appropriately called hurtcore.

联结对 我们私密生活造成的影响远远不止于此。饭桌上 我们还谈到了报复性爱录像——在如今的性关系中,大量电 子照片可以被轻松上传,一大批 年轻女性也因此受害。一些男 性复制网上性爱视频的图像,并将这 些放到专为窥私癖者设计的网站上。在我们会面的前一天,一个英 国人就因为利用这些图像胁迫46个人而被判入狱32年,其中大 部分是孩子和青少年,去拍摄更多不良画面。这种建 立在痛苦和羞辱之上的行为,被称为伤虐癖。

伤虐癖:即暴力性虐待儿童,是恋童 癖中最恶劣的一种。

 

Then there is “deepfake” porn, which came up in the conversation over curry and spicy eggplant. Over the past year, artificial intelligence has made such great leaps forward that we can now produce convincing videos in which recognizable people appear to do and say things they never did or said. Inevitably, one of the offshoots is pornography with famous women’s faces pasted onto other women’s bodies. The ability to find images, turn them into recombinant forms of fakery, and circulate them around the globe is reaching a new summit of perfection.

伴随着 晚餐的咖喱和辣茄子一起上桌的,还有“Deepfake”这个色情网站。AI技术在 去年的跨越式技术进步让现在的我们可以生产出让人真假难辨的视频,视频里 的名人会说出他们从未说过的话,做出他 们从未做过的事。不可避免的,其中的一条色情业支线就是把 知名女星的脸放到其他女性的身体上。搜索图像的技术、视频的 重组和伪造以及其在全球范围内的转发,都达到 了一种全新的高度。

Deepfake: 该公司旗下的AI 工具可 以用于帮助用户找到与目标人物匹配的色情影片演员,比如一款叫「Porn Star By Face」的工具,声称是 首个基于深度神经网络的面部识别搜索引擎,只要你 上传想要用于伪造色情影片的女明星照片,系统就 会自动匹配到相似度最高的色情影片演员