纽约时报双语笔记:20年后的世界什么样?

20年后的世界什么样?
What Will the World Be Like in 20 Years?
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN
2021年11月30日
纽约时报双语笔记:20年后的世界什么样?

笔记导读

fool’s errand 徒劳无益的差事 a task that has no hope of being done successfully ◆ He sent me on a fool’s errand. 他派我去干白费力的事。

seismic /’saɪzmɪk/ 地震的;(转变、变化)突如其来的,巨大的,急剧的;A seismic shift or change is a very sudden or dramatic change.

prognosticator /prɔɡ’nɔstikeitə/ n. 预言者,占卜者

双语全文

This article is part of our latest DealBook special report on the trends that will shape the coming decades.

本文是我们最新的《交易录》特别报告的一部分,内容是关于塑造未来几十年的趋势。

“Demographics are destiny.”

“人口就是命运。”

It is a phrase, often attributed to the French philosopher Auguste Comte, that suggests much of the future is preordained by the very simple trend lines of populations. Want to understand how the power dynamic between the United States and China will change over the next 20 years? An economist would tell you to look at the demographics of both countries. (China’s economy is likely to overtake the U.S. economy by 2028, but remain smaller on a per capita basis.)

人们常常引用法国哲学家奥古斯特·孔德的这一表述,它表明未来在很大程度上仅靠这几根人口趋势线决定。想了解未来20年中美之间的权力动态将如何变化?经济学家会让你去看这两个国家的人口统计数据。(中国经济很可能在2028年超过美国经济,但按人均计算仍然较低。)

Want to know how much lithium we’re going to need to mine to make batteries over the next 20 years? Demographics will most likely provide the answer. (We are likely to need 13 to 42 times the amount we currently use, according to the International Energy Agency.) And on and on.

想知道未来20年我们需要开采多少锂来制造电池?人口数据很可能会提供答案。(根据国际能源署的数据,我们可能需要目前使用量的13到42倍。)以此类推。

Predicting the future may be a fool’s errand. But using demographic data to assess the opportunities and challenges of the next two decades is something that business and political leaders don’t do enough. We’re all too swept up in the here and now, the next quarter and the next year.

预测未来可能是徒劳的。但是,在使用人口统计数据来评估未来二十年的机遇和挑战方面,商界和政界领导人做得还不够。我们都忙于处理此时此地、下个季度和明年的事情。

Of course, demographics can’t spot pandemics or other crises. But as seismic as they feel in the moment, such events are rare.

当然,人口统计数据无法发现流行病或其他危机。虽然这样的事情在当下让人感觉天翻地覆,但并不常见。

When DealBook began publishing 20 years ago, after 9/11, prognosticators suggested that travel might be reduced forever. It is true that air travel may have changed forever after the attacks, but within months growth in air travel was back on track. Why? Demographics. More people around the world had more disposable income and increasingly chose to live closer to cities with greater access to airports. That, married with the human condition that people like to be around other people, makes forecasting certain elements of the future almost mathematical.

当《交易录》于20年前——即“911”事件之后——开始发布时,预言家认为旅行可能会一直减少下去。确实,袭击发生后,航空旅行可能彻底改变了,但在几个月内,航空旅行的增长又回到了正轨。为什么?人口数据有答案。世界各地越来越多的人拥有更多的可支配收入,并且越来越多的人选择居住在方便去机场的城市。再加上人类喜欢群居的特性,预测未来的一些因素变得几乎像数学公式。

One aspect of the future that demographics can’t help predict are technological innovations. But even technological innovations have a slower impact on the day-to-day than we sometimes appreciate. Peter Thiel famously said in 2013: “We wanted flying cars. Instead we got 140 characters.”

人口统计数据对未来无法预测的一个方面是技术创新。但即使是技术创新,它对日常生活的影响也比我们有时意识到的要慢。彼得·泰尔在2013年有一句名言:“我们想要会飞的车。但我们得到的是140个字符。”

So what comes next? If you woke up 20 years from now in 2041, what would be different? Here are some ideas based on numbers that don’t require a crystal ball.

那么接下来会发生什么呢?如果你在20年后的2041年醒来,会有什么不同?以下这些基于数字的思路不需要水晶球的魔法。

About 70 percent of the world population is expected to live in urban areas by 2050, according to data from the United Nations.

根据联合国的数据,预计到2050年,世界上约有70%的人口将居住在都市区。

That means most cities are going to need more infrastructure. Roads, public transportation and waste management will need massive expansion and upgrades. The average person produces 4.9 pounds of waste a day, up from 3.66 pounds in 1980. But here’s a trend going in the other direction as a result of technology: Paper and paperboard declined from 87.7 million tons in 2000 to 67.4 million tons in 2018, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

这意味着大多数城市将需要更多的基础设施。道路、公共交通和废物处理将需要大规模扩建和升级。每个人平均每天产生约2.2公斤垃圾,高于1980年的1.66公斤。但由于技术的发展,这里出现了另一个趋势:根据美国环境保护署的数据,垃圾中纸和纸板从2000年的8770万吨下降到2018年的6740万吨。

We’re also going to need a lot more energy.

我们也将需要更多的能源。

The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that the world will need about 28 percent more energy in 2040 than it did in 2015 based on the number of people in the country and consumption patterns; on our current trajectory, about 42 percent of electricity in the United States will come from renewable sources.

美国能源信息署预计,根据各国人口数量和消费模式,2040年全球能源需求将比2015年多28%;按照我们目前的发展轨迹,美国大约42%的电力将来自可再生能源。

Where will that electricity get produced? Solar power could be produced on largely unpopulated land masses and transported to population centers, an idea Elon Musk raised about China five years ago. China has “an enormous land area, much of which is hardly occupied at all,” he said, noting that most of China’s population is concentrated in coastal cities. “So you could easily power all of China with solar.”

这些电力将在哪里产生?太阳能可以在几乎无人居住的宽广陆地上发电并输送到人口中心,这是埃隆·马斯克五年前提出的关于中国的设想。他说,中国拥有“巨大的土地面积,其中大部分几乎无人居住”,并指出中国大部分人口都集中在沿海城市。“所以你可以轻松地用太阳能为整个中国供电。”

Another trend that, like increasing energy needs, isn’t new and isn’t going away: on-demand everything. Technology has led us to expect that goods and services will be delivered at the push of a button, often within minutes. That could transform real estate, especially space in cities that is currently used for retail. As companies work toward instant deliveries, they’ll need to warehouse items closer and closer to customers. Real estate investors are already contemplating how to create mini-warehouses on every block. And the density of people in cities is likely to affect the farming and delivery of food. To get fresh produce to customers quickly, vertical farming — in indoor, controlled environments — could move from being the dream of some start-ups to a new reality.

就像不断增长的能源需求,另一个趋势并不新鲜,也不会消失:按需获取一切。技术让我们期待商品和服务在按下按钮后就能送达,通常只需数分钟时间。这可能会改变房地产,尤其是目前在城市中用于零售业的空间。随着公司努力实现即时交付,他们需要将物品存放在离客户越来越近的地方。房地产投资者已经在考虑如何在每个街区创建迷你仓。城市人口密度可能会影响农业和食物的运送。为了快速向客户提供新鲜农产品,曾是一些初创企业梦想的垂直农业——在可控的温室环境下种植——可能会成为新现实。

And we’ll be older. In the United States, we’re likely to live until 82.4 years old, compared with the current life expectancy of 79.1 years, the United Nations forecasts. That’s a good thing and for health care companies and others that cater to older people. But living three extra years is going to be more expensive, which will have implications for both working and saving. According to the Urban Institute, government “projections indicate that there will be 2.1 workers per Social Security beneficiary in 2040, down from 3.7 in 1970.”

还有,我们的寿命越来越长。联合国预测,在美国,我们的预期寿命很可能到达82.4岁,而目前为79.1岁。这对医疗保健公司和其他服务老年人的公司来说是一件好事。但多活三年会更贵,这将对工作和储蓄产生影响。据城市研究所称,政府“预测表明,到2040年,每个社会保障受益人将受益于2.1名劳动者,低于1970年的3.7名”。

Entrepreneurs, industry leaders and policymakers are already at work solving some of the problems that demographic data suggest are ahead of us, whether it’s figuring out how to incentivize farmers to sequester carbon, use insurance as a tool for reducing coal production, reinvent the motors that power heavy industry so they use less energy, or write laws that help govern code.

企业家、行业领袖和政策制定者已经在努力解决人口数据表明摆在我们面前的一些问题,无论是想办法激励农民固碳、使用保险作为减少煤炭产量的工具、改造发动机以减少重工业供电的能源消耗,或者制定有助于规定守则的法律。

What about the metaverse? Or crypto technology? Or robots taking our jobs? Or A.I. taking over everything? Demographics can’t answer those questions. All of those things may happen, but life in 2041 may also look a lot like it does today — maybe with the exception of those flying cars.

那元宇宙呢?加密技术?被机器人抢走工作?人工智能接管一切?人口数据无法回答这些问题。所有这些事情都可能发生,但2041年的生活也可能看起来就像今天——说不定那时候已经有了会飞的车。

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