【媒库文选】硅谷的效率专家想取消圣诞节

2018-01-06 00:45   参考消息网  

Silicon Valley's Efficiency Mavens

Would Like to Cancel Christmas

硅谷的效率专家想取消圣诞节

Izabella Kaminska 伊莎贝拉·卡明斯卡

hristmas means different things to different people. For some, it constitutes a bona fide religious experience. For others, it represents consumer indulgence. For others still, it evokes nostalgia and ritualised tradition. But whatever your views on Christmas, one thing runs true across the board. This is the time of year inefficiency is celebrated for its own sake.

In an era when algorithmic hyper-efficiency is being prioritised, this is an experience worth making time for — not least because of the economic paradox it brings about.

Consider just some of the inefficiencies deemed acceptable at this time of year that might otherwise be targeted by technologists and entrepreneurs for elimination, automation or acceleration. Arts and crafts; handmade decorations; organically-sourced produce from Christmas markets and stalls; Christmas lights; the wrapping of almost everything in decorative paper; indoor trees; festivities and merrymaking on employer-time; Christmas shows; and, most crucially of all, unnecessary gift-giving all around.

Then, on the behavioural front, there's the over-consumption of almost everything, as well as the days-long preparation of just one meal. If we operated on this basis every day, it is fair to assume our finely tuned “fast-paced” economy could probably not keep up without cost.

And yet, despite all the wastage and inefficiency, the season is still considered an essential consumer blowout, with the capacity to make or break a small independent company or even the more established large corporation. So while the Christmas phenomenon may be deemed inefficient to a technologist's mind, the livelihoods (and positive experiences) it supports more widely suggest it is not all for nothing.

Of course, the greatest irony comes in how newly-minted technology billionaires like to spend their own money once they have made it. Take the products and services made available at the annual Web Summit gathering in Lisbon in November. In the VIP-only area the titans of the internet indulged in artisanal coffees and grazed hand-cured meats and traditionally-baked patisseries even as they evangelised about the merits of dehumanised mass-market solutions.

But in their private investments the absurdities really come to light. Silicon Valley entrepreneur Michael Baum, who made his fortune selling big data software, spent a fair wedge of that sum acquiring the Burgundy winery Chateau de Pommard, which prides itself on its traditional winemaking techniques.

The first love of Elon Musk, the electric car enthusiast and futurist, was always the bespoke high-performance sports vehicle. His vision centres on bringing highly individualised “green” transport solutions to the masses at an affordable rate. But even his automated, energy-efficient approach to car manufacturing is struggling to compensate for the unexpected inefficiencies in hand.

None of which is to say humans should not strive to be more efficient where they can, especially on energy consumption. But if the joy, pleasure and job security afforded by Christmas inefficiency tells us anything, it is that efficiency should not be regarded as an end in itself. Since inefficiency has a way of popping up no matter what we do, it is human experience that should be prioritised before all else.

圣诞节对不同人有着不同含义。有人觉得它是不折不扣的宗教体验。也有人觉得它代表着纵情消费。还有人觉得它唤起了怀旧情绪和仪式化的传统。不过,无论你怎样看待圣诞节,有一点对谁都没错。每年这个时候,低效都会因其本身而受到赞美。

在人们日益注重算法式的超高效率的时代,这是一种值得为之挤出时间的体验——重要原因之一是它催生的经济悖论。

只需看看一些低效现象就明白了,它们在每年这个时候被视作可以接受,但在其他时候就会成为技术专家和企业家消灭、自动化或提速的对象。手工艺品;手制装饰品;圣诞集市上的有机农产品;圣诞灯饰;简直把所有东西都裹上装饰纸;室内圣诞树;上班时间喜庆狂欢;圣诞秀;最重要的是,还毫无必要地到处送礼物。

然后,在行为方面,简直一切都消费过度,还要为区区一顿饭准备数天。如果每天这么干,可以想见,我们恐怕无法继续维持精细调节的“快节奏”经济而不付出代价。

不过,尽管严重浪费和低效,但圣诞季仍然被视作必不可少的消费井喷期,能成就或毁灭一家小型独立公司乃至根基更稳的大型企业。因此,尽管技术专家可能会认定圣诞现象是低效的,但它在更大范围支撑的生计(和积极体验)表明,它并非一无是处。

当然,最大的讽刺在于新出炉的技术亿万富翁在赚到钱之后就想怎样花掉这些钱。以11月在里斯本召开的年度网络峰会上提供的产品和服务为例。在贵宾区,互联网巨头们一边宣讲去人性化的大众市场解决办法的好处,一边猛灌手工咖啡,大啖手工腌制的肉和以传统方法烘焙的甜点。

但真正暴露荒谬之处的是他们的个人投资。硅谷企业家迈克尔·鲍姆靠销售大数据软件发了财,把其中相当一部分资金用于购买勃艮第的玻玛酒庄,而该酒庄以传统酿酒工艺为傲。

电动车爱好者和未来主义者埃隆·马斯克的最爱始终是订制的高性能运动跑车。他的构想主要是以实惠价格把高度个性化的“绿色”交通解决方案带给大众。但是,就连他自动化和节能的汽车制造理念都很难弥补当前始料未及的低效。

所有这些并不是说,人类不应在力所能及的范围内(尤其是能源消耗方面)努力提高效率。但是,如果说圣诞低效带来的喜悦、享乐和职业安全感给了我们什么启示,那就是不应把效率本身作为目的。鉴于无论我们做什么,低效总会冒出来,所以人的体验应重于一切。(葛雪蕾译自英国《金融时报》网站12月20日文章)

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