Vol.2 | For the future, look to the past

写在前面:这篇文章是20190615期《Economist》里Bartleby专栏的文章。

Bartlely《Economist》于2018年5月26日新开的专栏,作者是原Buttonwood的Philip Coggan。专栏名字来源于Herman Melville的小说《Bartlely the Scrivener》传奇主编,余光中先生曾将其译为《录事巴托比》。这部小说主要讲的是一个叫做巴托比的人一开始工作勤奋老实,但从某一天开始消极怠工,甚至对他不愿意做的事以“I would prefer not to”来应对。小说也有电影版,有兴趣的可以自己去看啦。总之,这是一个关于职场,关于工作的专栏。


Vol.2 | For the future, look to the past_第1张图片

图片发自App

背景介绍:随着信息技术的迅速发展,看上去许多工作渐渐可以被机器所替代,随之而来的是潜在的一些就业问题,从而衍生了“零工经济”这种经济模式。这篇文章讨论的就是在互联网经济普及背后所存在的问题。

标题和插图

标题:“For the future, look to the past”,展望未来,回溯过去。插图:两个女性工作者分别代表着以前和未来,一个是纺织工,一个是互联网从业人员,尽管衣着和工作内容不一样,但用了一根相互链接的线表明两者本质上都是临时经济下廉价的劳动力。

Vol.2 | For the future, look to the past_第2张图片

前言:Workers may need new ways of organising themselves

这也是这篇文章最终的目的。

P1:阐述了乐天派的观点——技术会带来短时间内的不利但长远来看还是会促进经济发展,创造更多岗位。

THE DEBATE about the future of work tends to divide commentators into two camps. The optimistic case is that technology may cause temporary disruption but will ultimately result in economic growth and thus more jobs.

Combine harvesters reduced the need for agricultural labourers and personal computers eliminated the typing pool, but the displaced workers found other jobs in the end.

l    typing pool:打字小组, a group of typists who can work for different persons

此处用“combine…and”列举了收割机和电脑两个并列的例子,说明技术革新对劳动力的解放,又点出被取代的那些人依然找到了其它工作。

P2:悲观派则认为即使(此处 even if 作转折语)不会产生大规模失业,新技术的使用依然会导致“数字鸿沟”的产生,这里称之为“高科技的唐顿庄园”,技术获取能力的差异造就了这种阶层分化。

The pessimists argue that new technology, even if it does not cause mass unemployment, will create a “digital divide”. The future will resemble a high-tech Downton Abbey, with the skilled elite lording it over the rest. Unskilled workers will be delivering pizzas to, and cleaning the bathrooms of, the likes of Elon Musk and Tim Cook. 

l    digital divide the very large difference in opportunity between people who can easily access computers and the Internet and people who cannot,数字鸿沟,一般指在信息时代,不同群体(国家之间,地区之间,企业之间,人与人之间)对信息和技术的掌握与应用程度不同或创新能力差异而造成的信息落差,进而发展为贫富和社会地位等方面的差距,这是一种两极化发展的趋势。

l   lord it over(disapproving) to act as if you are better or more important than somebody;称王称霸、摆架子耍威风、比喻专横跋扈。

在高科技唐顿庄园里,掌握信息技术的精英人士将凌驾于其它人之上,某种程度上造成了社会的不平等。

P3:麦肯锡预测男性和女性的失业比例在接下去十年是一样的,这一项调查实际上是偏向(此处用“veer towards”)持有积极态度一方的。

A new report from the consultants at McKinsey veers towards the optimistic camp. 

l    veer (towards)(of a conversation or way of behaving or thinking) to change in the way it develops;除了思想行为上的转变,一般还可以指交通工具的转向和风向的变化。

In the developed world, McKinsey estimates that men will tend to lose machine-operating jobs and women will lose clerical and service roles. But new jobs will be created, if not necessarily for the same people. Women will find work in the expanding health-care industry and men in the professional, scientific and technical fields (a higher proportion of men than women have science degrees).

l    not necessarily for :意为“不一定是为了”,而非“不必要为了”

阐述发达国家中可能发生的变化:旧有的设备工、文书和服务员会消失,取而代之的是女性会在医疗保健行业找到工作,男性会更多从事科学技术方面工作,进而佐证预测所提出的观点。

P4-P5:指出了近年下岗工人大多在低收入的工作中实现再就业的现象,从而衍生的零工经济,并通过《Ghost Work》这本书阐述其今后潜在的发展趋势。

Not all of these jobs will be well paid, especially for women, says McKinsey—just as, according to left-wing critics, the jobs boom of recent years has been in low-paid work (though data suggest that high-paying ones also rose fast). On the bright side, discouraged  workers have rejoined the labour market as the economy has boomed and technology has made it easier for employers to find workers (and vice versa).

l    the jobs boom:就业热潮

l    discouraged workers:下岗工人

l    rejoined the labour market:再就业

l    vice versa:反之亦然

前面提到的是可能获得高薪的行业,但更多人能找到的其实是底薪的工作(“not all…”),好的一方面则是下岗工人有更多机会实现再就业。

How much of this low-paid work is the result of the gig economy ? Not much so far; it represents about only 1% of American employment. But in their book, “Ghost Work”, Mary Gray and Siddharth Suri forecast that what they call “on-demand work” will reach 60% of the global workforce by 2055. They define this category to include those who work for temporary staffing agencies, have short-term contracts or who accept work from employers through websites or apps.

l    gig economy,零工/临时经济,类似有 on-demand economy 对应后文 on-demand work, ghost work,泛指企业雇用独立承包商和短期工人,这种模式随着互联网经济的普及发展得愈发蓬勃,很多年轻人正在投身其中。

l    Ghost WorkHow to Stop Silicon Valley from Building a New Global Underclass,作者Mary L. GraySiddharth Suri在这本书里指出“幽灵经济”为亚马逊、谷歌、微软和优步等互联网公司正常运营所发挥的巨大作用。

所谓的幽灵是临时工的代名词,这些人没有劳动法保护,经常要加班,还会受到各种不公平的待遇。在这种经济模式下,工人在软件和人工智能的指导下,从事重复性的、往往缺乏人性的工作,自动化的系统之下却包含了大量的人力付出,其实质是另一种对人的剥削。

Ghost Work

P6- P7:对那些选择这类新型模式工作的人来说,挑战与机遇并存。

All this makes it sound as if the future of jobs will look like the past. Before the days of the factory and the office, many workers were part of a “putting-out system”, in which merchants hired them to undertake specific tasks, such as spinning or weaving, for which they were paid a piece rate. The attraction to employers is that such work is cheap. The authors quote one marketing executive as saying that “We can save up to 40% by not paying benefits or allocating office  space.” Furthermore, in two of the main markets where on-demand workers toil, America and India, they have little access to the legal protections associated with formal employment. A digital Downton Abbey, in other words.

l    putting-out system:包买主制,中国近代乡村手工业者丧失经营的独立性,在资本、原料或者销售等方面陷入对包买主的依附。

l    undertake specific tasks:承担特定工作/任务

l    pay benefit:提供福利

l    allocate office space:分配办公空间

l    piece-rate pay:计件工资

零工经济的模式听上去就好像是过去资本家剥削工人一样。过去的手工业者依附于资本家,接受低廉计件工资;今天的互联网民工则做着一些繁琐底薪而得不到保障的工作。雇主不仅支付少额薪水,还无需提供任何福利待遇,不用考虑扩大办公空间(这类工作无需坐班),从各方面降低成本。

“spinning or waving” 对应漫画内容,过去是纺织女工,现在是互联网临时工。

However, the new forms of employment have a plus side. Many workers in emerging markets relish the opportunity to work at home and at times of their choosing. They are only expecting to supplement their family’s other sources of income. On some platforms, workers are identified by a sequence of letters and numbers, meaning that they are free from discrimination on the grounds of  age, religion or sex.

a plus side:好的一面

relishto get great pleasure from sth; to want very much to do or have sth

supplement... family’s sources of income:补充家庭收入

on the ground of:基于…理由,根据

好的一面在于,这种工作模式给了人们许多自由,大多人将这类工作作为自己的副业,并且一定程度上消除了一些工作上的歧视问题。

P8-P9:建议这些临时工联合起来成立可以实现多方受益的组织或平台。

Workers may also look to the past to find a way to organise themselves. Some have set up online forums which share information on the most reliable employers. Ms Gray and Mr Suri suggest that these could be expanded to create the equivalent of medieval guilds which could enable workers to learn new skills. Such guilds could also act as a repository for employees’ work records. At the moment, it is as hard—or harder—to transfer your work rating from one online platform to another as it is to wrest your user data from Facebook. Lack of inter-operability means workers have to start each contract from scratch.

medieval guilds:欧洲的中世纪行会,由同一手工业或商业的从业人员组成的,有的是为了促进共同利益,有的是为了福利目的和共同的宗教信仰,还有的完全是为了交际目的。

act as a repository:充当资料库,repository reposit,储藏

from scratchfrom the beginning,白手起家,从头再来;scratch的一个意思是 a living to make enough money to live on, but with difficulty,勉强维持生活。

wrest your user data:获取用户数据

这类组织相当于中世纪行会,其作用在于雇员之间分享交流信息,提高他们的职业技能,还可以作为他们从业资料的档案室,用于记录工作评分,这一点有利于雇主对他们拥有更高的信任度。

Responsible employers could pledge only to use workers from guilds and to apply minimum standards on issues such as prompt  payment. They will benefit from more reliable and skilful employees. That way, if the workers of the world unite, everyone may gain.

以上内容如有不当之处,欢迎指出,共同学习,谢谢。

你可能感兴趣的