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一、经济学人杂志双语文章摘要

它们对数据的永不饱足令政策制定者在两个方面越来越担心。首先是政治上的。这些平台的商业模式依赖网络效应和规模,以保持用户参与度和提高广告销量。由此产生了一种病毒式传播的文化,它虽有娱乐性,却败坏了公共话语空间,令政府不安。其次是经济上的。科技公司的规模越大,在数据上的优势就越难被潜在竞争对手超越,这就会抑制创新。牛津大学的维克托·迈尔-舍恩伯格(Viktor Mayer-Schönberger)指出,创业公司的最大问题不再是筹措资金,而是获取数据。

二、经济学人杂志双语文章中英对照翻译

Free the data serfs! 解放数据农奴!

2020.11


The fight back against big tech’s feudal lords has begun
对科技巨头封建领主们的反抗开始了

经济学人双语杂志


SIR TIM BERNERS-LEE had a Romantic vision when he created the World Wide Web in 1989. In his words, he helped “weave” it together as a way of connecting anything to anything—as if he were sitting at a loom, not at CERN, a particle-physics laboratory in Geneva. But those were halcyon days. Now the web risks falling into what he has called a dystopia of prejudice, hate and disinformation. People around him talk of “digital feudalism” to describe the control big technology platforms have over data. As a result, Sir Tim has co-founded a startup, Inrupt, that aims to shift the balance of power. It is one of many incipient efforts aimed at putting data back into the hands of the people.
蒂姆·伯纳斯·李(Tim Berners-Lee)在1989年创建万维网时满怀浪漫主义的憧憬。用他的话说,他帮助“编织”了一张网,把世界万物联系在一起——就好像他是坐在织布机前,而不是在日内瓦的粒子物理实验室欧洲核子研究中心(CERN)里。然而,岁月静好已成往事。如今,互联网正陷入他所说的充满偏见、仇恨和虚假信息的废托邦。他身边的人用“数字封建制度”来形容大型科技平台对数据的控制。为此,蒂姆与他人共同创办了一家名叫Inrupt的公司,想要改变力量对比。其他很多人也开始行动起来,以求把数据控制权交回人们手里。
It sounds quixotic. The use of data, after all, is now the world’s biggest business. Some $1.4trn of the combined $1.9trn market value of Alphabet (the owner of Google) and Facebook, comes from users’ data and the firms’ mining of it, after stripping out the value of their cash, physical and intangible assets, and accumulated research and development. They are not sated yet. Around the world, sensors on everything from cars to kitchens are expected to churn out exponentially more personal information as the “Internet of Things” expands. The tech giants have their beady eyes on it.
这听起来像异想天开。毕竟,对数据的使用是当今世界上最大的买卖。在Alphabet(谷歌的母公司)和Facebook合计1.9万亿美元的市值中,除去现金、有形和无形资产以及累积研发投入,大约有1.4万亿都来自用户数据以及对数据的挖掘。但它们并不满足于此。随着“物联网”的发展,全世界从汽车到厨房中的一切都会装上传感器,并以指数级的速度生成更多个人信息。科技巨头们对这些信息虎视眈眈。
Their relentless appetite for data is a mounting concern for policymakers in two ways. The first is political. The platforms’ business models depend on network effects and scale to keep users engaged and to sell more advertising. The result is a culture of virality that, while entertaining, poisons public discourse and disquiets governments. The second is economic. The bigger the tech firms are, the harder it is for potential rivals to overcome their data advantage, which suppresses innovation. Viktor Mayer-Schönberger of Oxford University notes that access to capital is no longer the biggest problem for startups. It is access to data.
它们对数据的永不饱足令政策制定者在两个方面越来越担心。首先是政治上的。这些平台的商业模式依赖网络效应和规模,以保持用户参与度和提高广告销量。由此产生了一种病毒式传播的文化,它虽有娱乐性,却败坏了公共话语空间,令政府不安。其次是经济上的。科技公司的规模越大,在数据上的优势就越难被潜在竞争对手超越,这就会抑制创新。牛津大学的维克托·迈尔-舍恩伯格(Viktor Mayer-Schönberger)指出,创业公司的最大问题不再是筹措资金,而是获取数据。
So trustbusters are on the warpath. The Department of Justice lawsuit in America against Google, filed on October 20th, accuses the company of using contracts with device-makers, such as Apple, to block other search engines. Google denies this, saying people use its services because they choose to, not because they have to. Whatever the merits of the case, for some the only remedy is to break up the tech giants. That is simplistic. The problems will not be solved just by cutting big tech down to size. Any solution must make data more evenly accessible so that potential rivals can grow.
因此,反垄断者准备反击。10月20日,美国司法部向谷歌提起诉讼,指控它利用与苹果等设备制造商的协议来屏蔽其他搜索引擎。谷歌对此予以否认,表示人们使用它的服务是出于自愿而非被迫。不管该案的是非曲直如何,在一些人看来,拆分科技巨头是唯一的解决办法。然而这过于简单化了。仅靠缩减大型科技公司的规模无济于事。无论哪种解决方案,都必须提供更均等的数据访问权,这样潜在的竞争对手才有成长的机会。
This can be done in several ways. One is to empower individuals. Another is to consider collective action. A third is to rely on governments. All three will need to reinforce each other to have a chance of success.
这一目标可以从几方面达成。一是赋权个人。二是考虑集体行动。三是依靠政府。三者需要相互促进才有可能成功。
Start with the individual. It is seductive to argue that each person should have ownership rights over their data. Yet unless laws change radically, in practice it is hard to wrest control back from the tech platforms, because an individual’s bargaining power is woefully weak. Fortunately, other options are surfacing.
先说个人。很多人都会很想要提倡人人都该拥有对自己数据的所有权。但除非彻底改变法律,否则实际上很难从科技平台手中夺回控制权,因为个人的议价能力小得可怜。好在已经出现了一些其他选择。
One is a subscription model, along the lines of Netflix or Spotify. MeWe, an “anti-Facebook” social network (with Sir Tim on its board), spares its users bombardments of advertisements and targeted news, and charges fees instead. Another option is to start gathering data on behalf of the individual from all sorts of sources. Inrupt, for instance, is working with the government of Flanders, a region of Belgium, to give every citizen a “pod” to store personal data. It hopes private firms will build user-friendly apps around the data, with people’s consent, says John Bruce, its co-founder. The better the apps, the more eager people will be to furnish it with their data. In India something similar is happening in financial services. Individuals’ and firms’ financial data can be transferred to financial-services firms via “account aggregators” that obtain the owners’ consent. This can help speed up credit-scoring and loan underwriting. It could also be an alternative to huge data guzzlers such as Ant Financial, a Chinese fintech firm.
一种是类似奈飞(Netflix)或Spotify的订阅模式。“反Facebook”的社交网络MeWe(蒂姆是其董事)让用户免受各种广告和定向新闻的狂轰滥炸,改成向用户收费。另一种选择是接受个人委托,逐步从各种来源收集数据。例如,Inrupt正在与比利时佛兰德斯大区(Flanders)的政府合作,给每个公民提供一个储存个人数据的“豆荚”。它的联合创始人约翰·布鲁斯(John Bruce)表示,Inrupt希望私人企业在征得人们同意的情况下,基于这些数据开发用户友好的应用。应用越好用,人们就越乐于向它提供自己的数据。在印度,金融服务业正在采取类似的做法。在得到所有者的同意后,个人和公司的财务数据可以通过“账户聚合平台”移交给金融服务公司。这有助于加快信用评分和贷款担保。它也可以作为诸如中国的金融科技公司蚂蚁集团等数据收集大户的替代品。
A second way to strengthen the power of those who provide data is by collective action—particularly important when so much value on the web comes not from individuals’ data but from their interactions with others. Glen Weyl, an economist at Microsoft, a software colossus, proposes “unions” that bargain on behalf of groups of people for a share of the income generated from the use of their data. The aim, says Mr Weyl, is not to destroy the platforms, just as labour unions do not want to shut down factories. Andrew Yang, a former American presidential hopeful, has proposed a “digital dividend” to individuals via collective bargaining.
要加强提供数据的人的权力的第二个途径是集体行动。鉴于网络上有大量价值不是来自个人数据,而是来自人与人的互动,这种做法尤其重要。软件巨头微软的经济学家格伦·韦尔(Glen Weyl)提议建立代表不同群体的“工会”来谈判从个人数据使用的收益中分成。韦尔表示,这么做的目的不是要消灭平台,就像工会并不会想要工厂关门。美国前总统竞选人杨安泽曾提议通过集体谈判为个人争取“数字红利”。
These efforts, however valiant, are in their infancy. They may not amount to anything unless governments, too, weigh in—as they have done with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, and the California Consumer Privacy Act. Though the chief aim of both is privacy, they have dramatically bolstered individuals’ rights over their own data. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, long more interventionist than America on tech regulation, plans to go a step further, proposing a Data Act in 2021 that will seek to wrench open the bloc’s public and private data vaults. As with the American government, the EU continues to threaten the cudgel of antitrust law against the tech giants. 这些努力不管有多坚决,也都还处在起步阶段。而且除非政府也参与其中,否则可能无所作为。欧盟的《通用数据保护条例》(GDPR)和美国的《加州消费者隐私法案》(CCPA)就是政府参与的结果。尽管两部法规的主要目的都是保护隐私,但它们都极大增强了个人对自己数据的掌控权。长期以来,欧盟的执行机构欧盟委员会在科技监管方面比美国更倾向于干预,它计划还要更进一步,在2021年提出一项数据法案,力图撬开欧盟的公共和私人数据保险库。与美国政府一样,欧盟一直在挥舞反垄断法的大棒来威胁科技巨头。
Domesday
末日审判
Silicon Valley says it has got the message. This year Facebook offered to pay users for recordings of their own voice, to improve speech recognition. The tech firms are making it easier for users to shift photo files to other platforms. But they are token moves. Switching platforms remains fiendishly hard. Scale and virality are so vital to their business models that they lobby fiercely against regulation. They reassure themselves that most consumers continue to support the exchange of data for free stuff. Yet they must be aware that access to data is becoming one of the philosophical issues of the age. Feudalism eventually gave way to greater property rights. One day data serfdom will go the same way, too.
硅谷表示它已领会了精神。今年,Facebook表示将向那些录制自己的声音以供它改善语音识别技术的用户付费。科技公司正在改善用户往其他平台转移照片文件的便捷度。但这些都只是象征性的举动。切换平台依然极其困难。由于规模和病毒式传播对它们的商业模式至关重要,因此它们不遗余力地游说反对监管。它们自我安慰说,大部分用户会继续支持用个人数据换取免费服务。但它们必须意识到,获取数据已经成为这个时代的一个哲学命题。封建制度最终让位给了更大的财产权。总有一天,数据农奴制也会走上同样的道路。