纽约时报双语笔记:马斯克主义:科技亿万富翁们的外星资本主义

马斯克主义:科技亿万富翁们的外星资本主义
Elon Musk Is Building a Sci-Fi World, and the Rest of Us Are Trapped in It
JILL LEPORE
2021年11月5日
纽约时报双语笔记:马斯克主义:科技亿万富翁们的外星资本主义

笔记导读

cove /kəʊv/ 小海湾 ◆ a secluded cove 僻静的小海湾

obscene /əb’siːn/ 1.淫秽的;猥亵的(connected with sex in a way that most people find offensive );◆ obscene gestures/language/books 淫秽的姿态╱语言╱书籍 2.(数量等)大得惊人的,骇人听闻的(extremely large in size or amount in a way that most people find unacceptable and offensive )  ◆ He earns an obscene amount of money. 他捞了一大笔昧心钱。

annex /ə’neks/ 强占,并吞(国家、地区等)(to take control of a country, region, etc, especially by force )◆ Germany annexed Austria in 1938. *1938 年德国吞并了奥地利。

intone /ɪn’təʊn/ 缓慢庄重地说 (to say sth in a slow and serious voice without much expression ) ◆ The priest intoned the final prayer. 神父庄重地念了最后的祷文。

smithereens /ˌsmɪðə’riːnz/ 小片;碎片(If something is smashed or blown to smithereens, it breaks into very small pieces.) ◆ She dropped the vase and smashed it to smithereens… 她失手将花瓶摔得粉碎。

双语全文(PDF见文末)

The last week of October, Bill Gates (net worth: $138 billion) celebrated his 66th birthday in a cove off the coast of Turkey, ferrying guests from his rented yacht to a beach resort by private helicopter. Guests included Jeff Bezos (net worth: $197 billion), who after the party flew back to his own yacht, not to be confused with the “superyacht” he is building at a cost of more than $500 million.

10月的最后一周,比尔·盖茨(净资产:1380亿美元)在土耳其海岸一个小海湾庆祝66岁生日,用私人直升机将客人从他租来的游艇送到一个海滩度假村。宾客包括杰夫·贝佐斯(净资产1970亿美元),派对结束后,他坐飞机回了自己的游艇,不过别弄混了,这还不是他正在建造的那艘价值超5亿美元的“超级游艇”。

The world’s richest person, Elon Musk (net worth: $317 billion), did not attend. He was most likely in Texas, where his company SpaceX was preparing for a rocket launch. Mark Zuckerberg (net worth: $119 billion) wasn’t there, either, but the day after Mr. Gates’s party, he announced his plan for the metaverse, a virtual reality where, wearing a headset and gear that closes out the actual world, you can spend your day as an avatar doing things like going to parties on remote Aegean islands or boarding a yacht or flying in a rocket, as if you were obscenely rich.

世界首富伊隆·马斯克(净资产3170亿美元)没有出席。他很可能在得克萨斯州,他的公司SpaceX正在那里准备火箭发射。马克·扎克伯格(净资产:1190亿美元)没有出席,不过盖茨的聚会后的第二天,他宣布了他的元宇宙计划,这是一种虚拟现实,戴上耳机和装备,你就可以不理会现实世界,成为一个虚拟化身,花上一整天去做一些事,比如去遥远的爱琴海岛屿参加聚会,或者登上游艇、乘坐火箭飞行,就好像你是巨富一样。

The metaverse is at once an illustration of and a distraction from a broader and more troubling turn in the history of capitalism. The world’s techno-billionaires are forging a new kind of capitalism: Muskism. Mr. Musk, who likes to troll his rivals, mocked Mr. Zuckerberg’s metaverse. But from missions to Mars and the moon to the metaverse, it’s all Muskism: extreme, extraterrestrial capitalism, where stock prices are driven less by earnings than by fantasies from science fiction.

元宇宙呈现了资本主义史在更广泛层面的一场愈发令人不安的转折,同时也是对它的一种干扰。世界上的科技亿万富翁们正在打造一种新的资本主义:马斯克主义。喜欢挖苦竞争对手的马斯克嘲笑了扎克伯格的元宇宙。但是从火星、月球到元宇宙,都是马斯克主义:极端的、外星的资本主义,在这一体系下,股票价格与其说是由收益驱动,不如说是由科幻小说的幻想驱动。

Metaverse, the term, comes from a 1992 science fiction novel by Neal Stephenson, but the idea is much older. There’s a version of it, the holodeck, in the “Star Trek” franchise, which Mr. Bezos was obsessed with as a kid; last month, he sent William Shatner, the actor who played Captain Kirk in the original series, into space. Billionaires, having read stories of world-building as boys, are now rich enough, as men, to build worlds. The rest of us are trapped in them.

“元宇宙”这个词来自尼尔·史蒂芬森1992年的科幻小说,但是这个概念早已存在。在贝佐斯儿时迷恋的《星际迷航》(Star Trek)系列里的全像甲板就是它的一个版本;上个月,他把该系列中饰演柯克船长的演员威廉·夏特纳送入太空。亿万富翁们小时候读过那些建造世界的故事,现在长大成人的他们已经足够富有,于是就成了建造世界的人。其他人则被困在这些世界里。

Weirdly, Muskism, an extravagant form of capitalism, is inspired by stories that indict … capitalism. At Amazon Studios, Mr. Bezos tried to make a TV adaptation of the Culture space opera series, by the Scottish writer Iain Banks (“a huge personal favorite”); Mr. Zuckerberg put a volume of it on a list of books he thinks everyone should read; and Mr. Musk once tweeted, “If you must know, I am a utopian anarchist of the kind best described by Iain Banks.”

奇怪的是,马斯克主义作为一种奢侈的资本主义形式,其灵感却来自于……控诉资本主义的故事。在亚马逊工作室,贝佐斯想把苏格兰作家伊恩·班克斯(“是我个人的最爱”)的《文化》太空歌剧系列改编成电视剧;扎克伯格把该系列其中的一卷列入了他给所有人的推荐必读书单;马斯克曾发推说,“非要说的话,我是伊恩·班克斯最擅长描述的那种乌托邦无政府主义者。”

But Banks was an avowed socialist. And, in an interview in 2010, three years before his death, he described the protagonists of the Culture series as “hippy commies with hyper-weapons and a deep distrust of both Marketolatry and Greedism.” He also expressed astonishment that anyone could read his books as promoting free-market libertarianism, asking, “Which bit of not having private property and the absence of money in the Culture novels have these people missed?”

但是班克斯是一个公开的社会主义者。2010年,也就是他去世三年前,他在采访中把《文化》系列的主角描述为“拥有超级武器的嬉皮共党,对市场阴谋主义和贪婪主义极度不信任。”他还表示,如果有人把他的书解读为提倡自由市场的自由主义,他会感到惊讶,并问道:“这些人没有读到《文化》小说里没有私有财产也没有货币那部分吗?”

Admittedly, it’s possible these men’s sci-fi fandom is so much tech-bro-PR blather, but these are very smart people and you do get the sense they’ve actually read these books. (Mr. Gates, a philanthropist, isn’t much involved in all this. “I’m not a Mars person,” he said last winter. He read a lot of science fiction as a kid but has mostly left it behind, and, full disclosure, he once put a book of mine on a list of gift books for the holidays, so I’m in no position to question the man’s taste.) Muskism, it seems, involves misreading.

不可否认,这些人对科幻的迷恋可能都那种“技术男”的公关废话,但他们都是非常聪明的人,你能感觉到他们确实读过这些书。(盖茨是一位慈善家,他没有过多参与这一切。“我不是火星人,”他去年冬天说。他小时候读过很多科幻小说,但是现在已经大体上抛在一边了。坦白说,他曾经把我的一本书列在圣诞礼物书单上,所以我没资格质疑他的品味。)马斯克主义似乎包含了误读。

Muskism has origins in Silicon Valley of the 1990s, when Mr. Musk dropped out of a Ph.D. program at Stanford to start his first company and then his second, X.com. As the gap between the rich and the poor grew wider and wider, the claims of Silicon Valley start-ups became more and more grandiose. Google opened an R&D division called X, whose aim is “to solve some of the world’s hardest problems.”

马斯克主义起源于1990年代的硅谷,当时马斯克从斯坦福大学的博士项目中退学,创办了自己的第一家公司,然后是第二家公司X.com。随着贫富差距越来越大,硅谷初创企业的主张也变得越来越宏大。谷歌开设了一个名为X的研发部门,其目标是“解决一些世界上最困难的问题”。

Tech companies started talking about their mission, and their mission was always magnificently inflated: transforming the future of work, connecting all of humanity, making the world a better place, saving the entire planet. Muskism is a capitalism in which companies worry — very publicly, and quite feverishly — about all manner of world-ending disasters, about the all-too-real catastrophe of climate change, but more often about mysterious “existential risks,” or x-risks, including the extinction of humanity, from which only techno-billionaires, apparently, can save us.

科技公司开始谈论他们的使命,而他们的使命总是被夸大:改变工作的未来、连接全人类、让世界变得更美好、拯救整个星球。马斯克主义是一种资本主义,在这种资本主义里,公司非常公开地、相当狂热地担心各种形式的世界末日灾难。他们担心气候变化的真实灾难,但是更常担心神秘的“生存风险”,或X风险,包括人类的灭绝,显然只有科技企业亿万富翁才能将我们从中拯救出来。

But Muskism has earlier origins, too, including in Mr. Musk’s own biography. Much of Muskism is descended from the technocracy movement that flourished in North America in the 1930s and that had as a leader Mr. Musk’s grandfather Joshua N. Haldeman, an ardent anti-communist. Like Muskism, technocracy took its inspiration from science fiction and rested on the conviction that technology and engineering can solve all political, social and economic problems. Technocrats, as they called themselves, didn’t trust democracy or politicians, capitalism or currency. Also, they objected to personal names: One technocrat was introduced at a rally as “1x1809x56.” Elon Musk’s youngest son is named X Æ A-12.

但马斯克主义也有更早的起源,包括在马斯克自己的传记里。马斯克主义在很大程度上源自1930年代在北美盛行的技术官僚运动,马斯克的外祖父、狂热的反共人士约书亚·N·霍尔德曼曾是该运动的领袖。与马斯克主义一样,技术官僚主义也从科幻小说中获得灵感,并建立在这样一种信念之上:技术和工程可以解决所有的政治、社会和经济问题。他们自称技术官僚,不相信民主或政治家、资本主义或货币。此外,他们还反对使用个人姓名:一名技术官僚在一次集会上被介绍为“1x1809x56”。伊隆·马斯克的小儿子名叫X Æ A-12。

Mr. Musk’s grandfather, an adventurer, moved his family from Canada to South Africa in 1950, two years after the start of the apartheid regime. In the 1960s, South Africa recruited immigrants by billing itself as a lavish, sun-soaked, custom-made, whites-only paradise. Elon Musk was born in Pretoria in 1971. (To be clear, Elon Musk was a child of apartheid, not an author of it. He also left South Africa at 17 to avoid being conscripted into the military that enforced it.)

马斯克的外祖父是一位探险家,1950年,种族隔离制度开始两年后,他将家人从加拿大搬到南非。1960年代,南非标榜自己是一个沐浴在阳光下、专为白人打造的奢华天堂,以此来招募移民。伊隆·马斯克1971年出生于比勒陀利亚。(需要明确的是,他是种族隔离制度下出生的孩子,而不是种族隔离制度的始作俑者。而且他在17岁时离开了南非,为的是避免被执行种族隔离制度的军队征召入伍。)

As a teenager, he read Douglas Adams’s “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”; he plans to name the first SpaceX rocket to Mars after the crucial spaceship in the story, the Heart of Gold. “Hitchhiker’s Guide” doesn’t have a metaverse, but it does have a planet called Magrathea, whose inhabitants build an enormous computer to ask it a question about “life, the universe and everything.” After millions of years, it answers, “Forty-two.” Mr. Musk says that the book taught him that “if you can properly phrase the question, then the answer is the easy part.” But that is not the only lesson of “Hitchhiker’s Guide,” which also didn’t start out as a book. Adams wrote it for BBC Radio 4, and, starting in 1978, it was broadcasted all over the world — including to Pretoria.

十几岁时,他读了道格拉斯·亚当斯的《银河系漫游指南》(The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)。他打算以故事中至关重要的宇宙飞船“黄金之心”为SpaceX的第一枚火星火箭命名。《银河系漫游指南》里没有元宇宙,但有一颗叫做曼格拉西亚(Magrathea)的行星,那里的居民建造了一台巨大的计算机,然后向它提出一个关于“生命、宇宙和一切”的问题。几百万年后,它回答:“42。”马斯克说,这本书教会了他,“如果你能恰当地表达问题,那么答案就很简单。”但这并不是这本书教给人们的唯一一课。它一开始也不是一本书。亚当斯为BBC 4台写了这部广播剧,从1978年开始,它在全世界播放——包括比勒陀利亚。

“Far back in the mists of ancient time, in the great and glorious days of the former galactic empire, life was wild, rich and, on the whole, tax-free,” the narrator intones at the beginning of an early episode. “Many men, of course, became extremely rich, but this was perfectly natural and nothing to be ashamed of because no one was really poor, at least, no one worth speaking of.” “Hitchhiker’s Guide,” in other words, is an extended and very, very funny indictment of economic inequality, a science-fiction tradition that stretches all the way back to the dystopias of H.G. Wells, a socialist.

“在远古迷雾里,在昔日银河帝国的伟大与荣耀中,生活是狂放而富有的,并且大体上免税,”早期一集开头部分的旁白庄重地说。“当然,有些人极为富有,但那是完全正常的,没必要觉得羞耻,毕竟也没有谁特别穷,至少在值得一提的人当中是这样。”换句话说,《银河漫游指南》是对经济不平等发起的一次漫长而爆笑的控诉,这是科幻小说的一个传统,从社会主义者H·G·威尔斯的那些反乌托邦作品就已经开始了。

Early science fiction emerged during an era of imperialism: Stories about traveling to other worlds were generally stories about the British Empire. As Cecil Rhodes himself said, “I would annex the planets if I could.” The best early science fiction offered a critique of imperialism. Wells began his 1898 novel, “War of the Worlds,” in which Martians invade Earth, by remarking on British colonial expansion into Tasmania, writing that the Tasmanians, “in spite of their human likeness, were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants, in the space of 50 years. Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit?” Wells wasn’t justifying Martians; he was indicting the British.

早期科幻小说萌发于一个帝国主义的时代:前往另一个世界旅行的故事,基本上就是关于大英帝国的故事。如塞西尔·罗兹所说,“如果可以的话,我会吞并这个星球。”早期科幻的杰作是对帝国主义的批判。威尔斯的1898年作品《世界大战》(War of the Worlds)中,地球遭到火星人入侵,小说开篇评论了英国对塔斯马尼亚的殖民扩张,称塔斯马尼亚人“虽然长得跟人类一模一样,却在欧洲移民发起的一场的赶尽杀绝的战争中被彻底消灭,历时50年。我们也不是什么仁慈的使徒,有什么资格抱怨有着相同战争观的火星人呢?”威尔斯不是在为火星人正名;他在控诉英国。

Douglas Adams was to South Africa what H.G. Wells was to the British Empire. The U.N. General Assembly denounced apartheid as violating international law in 1973. Three years later, police officers opened fire on thousands of Black schoolchildren during a protest in Soweto, an atrocity extensively reported on by the BBC.

道格拉斯·亚当斯之于南非,正如同H·G·威尔斯之于大英帝国。联合国大会在1973年宣布种族隔离违反国际法。三年后在索韦托的一场抗议活动中,警察向成千上万的黑人学童开枪,BBC对这一暴行进行了详细报道。

Adams wrote “Hitchhiker’s Guide” for the BBC in 1977. It takes particular aim at the mega-rich, with their privately owned rockets, establishing colonies on other planets. “For these extremely rich merchants, life eventually became rather dull, and it seemed that none of the worlds they settled on was entirely satisfactory,” the narrator says. “Either the climate wasn’t quite right in the later part of the afternoon or the day was half an hour too long or the sea was just the wrong shade of pink. And thus were created the conditions for a staggering new form of industry: custom-made, luxury planet building.”

亚当斯在1977年为BBC写了《银河系漫游指南》。作品尤其针对的是那些极富之人,他们拥有自己的火箭,在别的星球建立殖民地。“对这些富可敌国的商人来说,生活终归是相当乏味的,他们曾在那么多地方住下来,却没有哪里能让他们完全满意,”旁白说。“要么是入夜前一段时间的气候不太合适,要么是白昼多了那么半个小时,要么大海的粉色是错误的粉色。于是就有了一种全新的产业形式:奢华星球定制服务。”

This would appear to be exactly what Mr. Bezos and Mr. Musk are up to, with their plans for the moon and Mars, annexing the planets if they could. And Douglas Adams? He wrote “Hitchhiker’s Guide” on a Hermes manual typewriter. He’d decorated that typewriter with a sticker. It says, “END APARTHEID.”

这可能就是贝佐斯和马斯克的想法,他们制定了月球和火星计划,一旦条件成熟就吞并这些星球。而道格拉斯·亚当斯呢?他用一台赫尔墨斯手动打字机写了《银河系漫游指南》。他在打字机上贴了张贴纸。上面写着“停止种族隔离”。

How have these men so gravely misread these books? One clue lies in the science fiction they seem, mostly, to ignore: new wave, Afrofuturism, feminist and post-colonial science fiction, the work of writers like Margaret Atwood, Vandana Singh, Octavia Butler and Ted Chiang.

这些人为什么会如此严重误读这些书呢?其中一个线索是看有哪些科幻小说基本上被他们无视了:新浪潮、非洲未来主义以及后殖民科幻,玛格丽特·阿特伍德、梵达纳·辛格、奥克塔维亚·巴特勒和姜峯楠。

Ursula K. Le Guin once wrote an essay, a riff on an essay by Virginia Woolf, about how the subject of all novels is the ordinary, humble, flawed human being. Woolf called her “Mrs. Brown.” Le Guin thought midcentury science fiction — of the sort written by Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein, two more writers lavishly admired by Mr. Musk and Mr. Bezos — had lost track of Mrs. Brown. This version of science fiction, she worried, seemed to be “trapped for good inside our great, gleaming spaceships, hurtling out across the galaxy,” ships she described as “capable of containing heroic captains in black and silver uniforms” and “capable of blasting other, inimical ships into smithereens with their apocalyptic, holocaustic rayguns, and of bringing loads of colonists from Earth to unknown worlds,” and finally “ships capable of anything, absolutely anything, except one thing: they cannot contain Mrs. Brown.”

厄休拉·K·勒古恩曾经写过一篇文章,是对弗吉尼亚·伍尔夫一篇文章的即兴回应,讲述了所有小说的主题如何都是普通、谦逊、有缺陷的人。伍尔夫称她为“布朗夫人”。勒古恩认为,世纪中科幻小说已经失去了布朗夫人的踪迹,比如艾萨克·阿西莫夫和罗伯特·海因莱因所写的那种,他们同样是被马斯克和贝佐斯钦佩的作家。她担心,这样的科幻小说似乎“永远被困在我们闪闪发光的伟大宇宙飞船中,飞越银河系”,她形容这些飞船“能够容纳穿着黑色和银色制服的英勇船长”并且“能够用摧毁世界、屠戮众生的射线枪将其他敌对的船只炸成碎片,并将大量殖民者从地球带到未知世界”,而且最终“飞船无所不能,绝对什么都做得出来,除了一件事:他们容不下一个布朗夫人。”

The future envisioned by Muskism and the metaverse — the real and virtual worlds being built by techno-billionaires — doesn’t contain Mrs. Brown, either. Misreading both history and fiction, it can’t even imagine her. I think someone maybe ought to make a sticker. It could read, “EXIT THE METAVERSE.”

马斯克主义和元宇宙所设想的未来——由技术亿万富翁建造的真实和虚拟世界——也不包含布朗夫人。经过对历史和小说的误读,他们甚至无法想象她。我觉得应该得有人去做个标牌。可以写:“退出元宇宙。”

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