爱思英语编者按:现在智能机几乎将普通手机淘汰。智能机是从什么时候开始占领这个星球的?智能机又是如何做到改变人的生活模式?它带个人们那些利弊?未来的发展趋势会是怎样呢?

Planet of the phones手机星球

The smartphone is ubiquitous, addictive and transformative
智能手机无处不在,让人上瘾,具有变革性

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THE dawn of the planet of the smartphones came in January 2007, when Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, in front of a rapt audience of Apple acolytes, brandished a slab of plastic, metal and silicon not much bigger than a Kit Kat. “This will change everything,” he promised. For once there was no hyperbole. Just eight years later Apple’s iPhone exemplifies the early 21st century’s defining technology.

智能手机星球的黎明破晓于2007年1月,当时苹果的首席执行官史蒂夫.乔布斯向一大堆热情的苹果死忠们挥舞着由塑料,金属和硅组成的一块板,大小不比奇巧巧克力大多少。他承诺道:“这将改变一切”。这个承诺并没有夸张,仅仅8年后,苹果的iPhone已经是21世纪初期界定科技的例证了。

Smartphones matter partly because of their ubiquity. They have become the fastest-selling gadgets in history, outstripping the growth of the simple mobile phones that preceded them. They outsell personal computers four to one. Today about half the adult population owns a smartphone; by 2020, 80% will. Smartphones have also penetrated every aspect of daily life. The average American is buried in one for over two hours every day. Asked which media they would miss most, British teenagers pick mobile devices over TV sets, PCs and games consoles. Nearly 80% of smartphone-owners check messages, news or other services within 15 minutes of getting up. About 10% admit to having used the gadget during sex.

智能手机的重要性部分原因是因为它们的受众很广。它们已经成为史上销售最快的设备,销量多于之前的普通手机,也超过个人电脑,比例为4:1。如今,约有一半以上的成年人拥有智能手机;到2020年,这个数值会是80%。智能手机渗透了生活的方方面面。美国人平均每天花在手机上的时间超过2小时。当英国青少年被问到,如果从手机,电视,电脑和游戏机中选,最舍不得哪样时,他们选择了手机。将近80%的智能手机用户在起床之后的15分钟内就会查看信息,新闻或其他服务。约10%的人承认在做爱时使用了手机。

The bedroom is just the beginning. Smartphones are more than a convenient route online, rather as cars are more than engines on wheels and clocks are not merely a means to count the hours. Much as the car and the clock did in their time, so today the smartphone is poised to enrich lives, reshape entire industries and transform societies—and in ways that Snapchatting teenagers cannot begin to imagine.

卧室还只是开始。正如汽车不仅仅是引擎,钟表不仅仅是计时工具,智能手机也不仅只是方便于上网。汽车和钟表在它们的时代如日中天,现在的智能手机也正是如此丰富着人们的生活,重塑整个行业和改变社会——在许多方面拇指一族们还无法想象。

Phono sapiens依赖手机的现代人

The transformative power of smartphones comes from their size and connectivity. Size makes them the first truly personal computers. The phone takes the processing power of yesterday’s supercomputers—even the most basic model has access to more number-crunching capacity than NASA had when it put men on the Moon in 1969—and applies it to ordinary human interactions (see article). Because transmitting data is cheap this power is available on the move. Since 2005 the cost of delivering one megabyte wirelessly has dropped from $8 to a few cents. It is still falling. The boring old PC sitting on your desk does not know much about you. But phones travel around with you—they know where you are, what websites you visit, whom you talk to, even how healthy you are.

智能手机的变革之力来自他们的大小和连接。大小使他们成为真正意义上的个人电脑。手机拥有昨日的超级计算机的处理能力,即便是最基本的模块也比1969年美国航天宇航局将人类送上月球时的数学运算能力更强,且这些运用被用到了普通人的互动中(见文章)。由于数据传输在这个可移动的设备上很廉价。自2005年以来,用无线流量传送1兆的价格已经从8美元下降到了几分钱,并且价格还在下降。躺在你书桌上沉闷老旧的台式机并不了解你,但一直跟着你到处走的手机却了解你——它们知道你在哪里,你访问过哪些网站,你跟谁聊天了,甚至知道你的健康状况。

The combination of size and connectivity means that this knowledge can be shared and aggregated, bridging the realms of bits and atoms in ways that are both professional and personal. Uber connects available drivers to nearby fares at cheaper prices; Tinder puts people in touch with potential dates. In future, your phone might recommend a career change or book a doctor’s appointment to treat your heart murmur before you know anything is amiss.

大小和连接的结合意味着这个知识可以被共享和集合,将专业和个人的点滴都连接了起来。优步可以连接到附近有空的司机,廉价打车;陌陌使人结识潜在的约会对象。未来,你的手机有可能在你还没意识到不妥前就给你推荐了工作或为你预约医生治疗你的心脏杂音。

As with all technologies, this future conjures up a host of worries. Some, such as “text neck” (hunching over a smartphone stresses the spine) are surely transient. Others, such as dependency—smartphone users exhibit “nomophobia” when they happen to find themselves empty-handed—are a measure of utility as much as addiction. After all, people also hate to be without their wheels or their watch.

如同所有科技一样,智能手机的未来也给人带来了一些担忧。有一些问题肯定是暂时的,比如,“短信脖”(低头看手机对脊椎有压迫),但其他的问题,比如智能手机用户在两手空空时有“无手机焦虑症”,这种依赖性既是使用方法的问题也是因为用手机上了瘾。但话说回来,人们没有车或没戴手表时,也会觉得不开心。

The greater fear is over privacy. The smartphone turns the person next to you into a potential publisher of your most private or embarrassing moments. Many app vendors, who know a great deal about you, sell data without proper disclosure; mobile-privacy policies routinely rival “Hamlet” for length. And if leaked documents are correct, GCHQ, Britain’s signals-intelligence agency, has managed to hack a big vendor of SIM cards in order to be able to listen in to people’s calls (seearticle). If spooks in democracies are doing this sort of thing, you can be sure that those in authoritarian regimes will, too. Smartphones will give dictators unprecedented scope to spy on and corral their unwilling subjects.

更大的担忧是隐私问题。智能手机的存在可能使得一个站在你旁边的人能够将你最隐私或最尴尬的时刻发布到网上。许多APP供应商知道你的很多信息,并在没有恰当公开的情况下出售数据;手机隐私政策通常又很冗长,堪比“哈姆雷特”。如果被泄露的文件真实,英国信号情报机构GCHQ为了窃听人们的手机通话成功的黑客了SIM卡的供应商(见文章)。如果连民主国家中的间谍都在做这样的事情,那些专制政权肯定也会这么做。智能手机给了独裁者空前的监事范围,控制住他们不喜欢的国民。

The naked app赤裸的应用程序

Yet three benefits weigh against these threats to privacy. For a start, the autocrats will not have it all their own way. Smartphones are the vehicle for bringing billions more people online. The cheapest of them now sell for less than $40, and prices are likely to fall even further. The same phones that allow governments to spy on their citizens also record the brutality of officials and spread information and dissenting opinions. They feed the demand for autonomy and help protest movements to coalesce. A device that hands so much power to the individual has the potential to challenge authoritarianism.

然而有三大好处可以权衡对于隐私的这些顾虑。首先,独裁者并不能自行其道,智能手机犹如车辆一样将数十亿之多的人送上网。目前最便宜的智能手机只要不到40美元,价格很有可能还会降的更低。政府用来监视公民的手机也同样记录了官员的暴行,并传播了信息和不同观点。它们供给了自制的需求并使得人们凝聚起来进行抗议活动。一个设备能给予个人如此强大的力量,使人们能有机会挑战独裁主义。

The second benefit is all those personal data which companies are so keen on. Conventional social sciences have been hampered by the limited data sets they could collect. Smartphones are digital census-takers, creating a more detailed view of society than has ever existed before and doing so in real time. Governed by suitable regulations, anonymised personal data can be used, among many other things, to optimise traffic flows, prevent crime and fight epidemics.

第二个好处是这些个人数据是很多公司都在意的。传统的社会科学受限于数据收集的局限性。智能手机如数字普查员,创建的社会观念比以往任何时候都要详细,并不断的在实行。只要有合适的监管制度,匿名的个人数据可以用于许多方面,如提高车流量,防止犯罪和对抗传染病。

The third windfall is economic. Some studies find that in developing countries every ten extra mobile phones per 100 people increase the rate of growth of GDP-per-person by more than one percentage point—by, say, drawing people into the banking system. Smartphones will remake entire industries, at unheard-of speed. Uber is a household name, operating in 55 countries, but has yet to celebrate its fifth birthday. WhatsApp was founded in 2009, and already handles 10 billion more messages a day than the SMS global text-messaging system. The phone is a platform, so startups can cheaply create an app to test an idea—and then rapidly go global if people like it. That is why it will unleash creativity on a planetary scale.

第三个颇另人意外的好处在于经济方面。一些研究发现,在发展中国家,每100个人每多10台手机,人均GDP的增长率超过1%,比如说通过把人们吸引近银行体系。智能手机能以前所未有的速度重塑所有行业。优步这个软件家喻户晓,在55个国家中运行,但也才迎来了第五个年头。WhatsApp成立于2009年,处理的信息已经达到每天100多亿条,比全球手机短信系统还多。手机对新兴公司是一个平台,它们可以很廉价的开发一个应用程序来测试自己的想法,如果人们喜欢的话,就可以迅速进行全球推广。这就是为什么智能手机将在行星尺度释放创造力。

By their nature, seminal technologies ask hard questions of society, especially as people adapt to them. Smartphones are no different. If citizens aren’t protected from prying eyes, some will suffer and others turn their backs. Societies will have to develop new norms and companies learn how to balance privacy and profit. Governments will have to define what is acceptable. But in eight short years smartphones have changed the world—and they have hardly begun.

种子科技的本质就是向社会提出难题,特别是当人们开始适应它们的时候。智能手机别无二致。如果公民被窥看而不受保护,有一些人可能会感到痛苦,另一些人置之不理。社会将不得不制定新的标准,公司也要学会如何平衡隐私和利润。政府需要定义什么是可以接受的。但在短短8年间,智能手机已经改变了世界,而一切才刚开始呢。