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托福双语阅读素材:监管数据经济

2018年05月07日17:50 来源:小站整理
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摘要:想要提高托福阅读能力,我们一定要在日常生活中有意识地增加英语阅读量,提升语感和熟练度,下面我们来看一篇经济学人文章:监管数据经济。

想要提高托福阅读能力,我们一定要在日常生活中有意识地增加英语阅读量,提升语感和熟练度,这其中比较常用也比较方便地一个方式就是利用各类英文报刊杂志文章进行精读与泛读练习。下面我们来看一篇经济学人文章:监管数据经济。

托福双语阅读素材:监管数据经济图1

Regulating the data economy

The world’s most valuable resource

Vast flows of data give some firms unprecedented power. To keep them in check, antitrust rules must catch up

监管数据经济

世界上最宝贵的资源

巨大的数据流让一些公司获得了前所未有的权力。要约束它们,反垄断法规需要与时俱进

A NEW commodity spawns a lucrative, fast-growing industry, prompting antitrust regulators to step in to restrain those who control its flow. A century ago, the resource in question was oil. Now similar concerns are being raised by the giants that deal in data, the oil of the digital era. These titans—Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft—look unstoppable. They are the five most valuable listed firms in the world. Their profits are surging: they collectively racked up over $25bn in net profit in the first quarter of 2017. Amazon captures half of all dollars spent online in America. Google and Facebook accounted for almost all the revenue growth in digital advertising in America last year. 一种新商品催生出一个盈利丰厚、发展迅速的行业,促使反垄断监管机构介入,以约束那些掌控这种商品流转的从业者。一百年前石油就是这样一种资源。现在,一些巨头公司引发了类似的担忧,它们经营的是数据——数字时代的石油。这些巨头包括Alphabet(谷歌的母公司)、亚马逊、苹果、Facebook和微软,看起来势不可挡。它们是全球市值最高的五家上市公司,利润也在飙升:2017年第一季度它们的净利润总和超过250亿美元。亚马逊占据了美国在线消费总额的一半,谷歌和Facebook几乎包揽了美国去年数字广告收入的全部增长。

Such dominance has prompted calls for the tech giants to be broken up, as Standard Oil was in the early 20th century. This newspaper has argued against such drastic action in the past. Size alone is not a crime. The giants’ success has benefited consumers. Few want to live without Google’s search engine, Amazon’s one-day delivery or Facebook’s newsfeed. Nor do these firms raise the alarm when standard antitrust tests are applied. Far from gouging consumers, many of their services are free (users pay, in effect, by handing over yet more data). Take account of offline rivals, and their market shares look less worrying. And the emergence of upstarts like Snapchat suggests that new entrants can still make waves. 如此的统治地位引发了要求拆分科技巨头的呼声,就像20世纪初标准石油公司(Standard Oil)面临的境地一样。本刊过去曾经反对过这样的极端举措。规模本身并不是罪过。巨头们的成功也让消费者受益。没人想要自己的生活里没有谷歌搜索、亚马逊一日送达和Facebook的动态消息流。以标准的反垄断测试衡量,这些公司也并未触达警戒线。它们没有向消费者乱开价,而是免费提供很多服务(实际上,用户以提交更多数据的方式来交换免费服务)。考虑到线下的对手,它们的市场份额看起来就没那么令人担忧了。而Snapchat这类新贵公司的出现表明新入行的公司仍能卷起风浪。

But there is cause for concern. Internet companies’ control of data gives them enormous power. Old ways of thinking about competition, devised in the era of oil, look outdated in what has come to be called the “data economy”. A new approach is needed. 不过仍然有理由担心。互联网公司对数据的掌控给了它们极大的权力。在所谓的“数字经济”时代,有关竞争的旧思维已显得不合时宜。因为那种思维方式产生于石油时代,而现在需要新的思考方法。

Quantity has a quality all its own

What has changed? Smartphones and the internet have made data abundant, ubiquitous and far more valuable. Whether you are going for a run, watching TV or even just sitting in traffic, virtually every activity creates a digital trace—more raw material for the data distilleries. As devices from watches to cars connect to the internet, the volume is increasing: some estimate that a self-driving car will generate 100 gigabytes per second. Meanwhile, artificial-intelligence (AI) techniques such as machine learning extract more value from data. Algorithms can predict when a customer is ready to buy, a jet-engine needs servicing or a person is at risk of a disease. Industrial giants such as GE and Siemens now sell themselves as data firms.

数量本身也是质量

什么发生了改变?智能手机和互联网让数据丰富充裕、无处不在、价值飙升。无论你在跑步、看电视,甚至只是在旅途中安坐,几乎每项活动都会产生数字痕迹,这就为数据提炼厂提供了更多的原料。随着从手表到汽车等各种设备接入互联网,数据量还在持续增长:有估算称一辆自动驾驶汽车每秒会产生100G的数据。与此同时,像机器学习这样的人工智能(AI)技术从数据中提取了更多的价值。算法能预测客户何时下单、喷气发动机何时需要维护,或是某人何时可能罹患某种疾病。GE和西门子等工业巨头现在则把自己包装成了数据公司。

This abundance of data changes the nature of competition. Technology giants have always benefited from network effects: the more users Facebook signs up, the more attractive signing up becomes for others. With data there are extra network effects. By collecting more data, a firm has more scope to improve its products, which attracts more users, generating even more data, and so on. The more data Tesla gathers from its self-driving cars, the better it can make them at driving themselves—part of the reason the firm, which sold only 25,000 cars in the first quarter, is now worth more than GM, which sold 2.3m. Vast pools of data can thus act as protective moats. 数据之丰富改变了竞争的本质。科技巨头一向受益于网络效应:Facebook的注册用户越多,就会吸引越多人加入。有了数据后,还会带来更大的网络效应。通过收集更多数据,公司会有更大的空间来改进产品,从而吸引更多用户,产生更多数据,如此循环。特斯拉从它的自动驾驶汽车那里收集的数据越多,就越能改进自动驾驶技术——特斯拉第一季度只卖出了2.5万辆车,但目前市值比卖出230万辆车的通用汽车还高,这便是原因之一。因此,巨大的数据池可以充当护城河。

Access to data also protects companies from rivals in another way. The case for being sanguine about competition in the tech industry rests on the potential for incumbents to be blindsided by a startup in a garage or an unexpected technological shift. But both are less likely in the data age. The giants’ surveillance systems span the entire economy: Google can see what people search for, Facebook what they share, Amazon what they buy. They own app stores and operating systems, and rent out computing power to startups. They have a “God’s eye view” of activities in their own markets and beyond. They can see when a new product or service gains traction, allowing them to copy it or simply buy the upstart before it becomes too great a threat. Many think Facebook’s $22bn purchase in 2014 of WhatsApp, a messaging app with fewer than 60 employees, falls into this category of “shoot-out acquisitions” that eliminate potential rivals. By providing barriers to entry and early-warning systems, data can stifle competition. 能够获取数据也从另一方面保护了公司免受竞争对手的威胁。在技术行业里,对竞争持乐观态度的理由是认为既有公司可能会被在车库里的创业公司打个措手不及,或是在意想不到的技术转型中受挫。但这两种情况在数字时代都更不太可能发生。巨头们的监控系统覆盖了整个经济:谷歌能看到人们在搜索什么,Facebook能看到人们分享了什么,亚马逊能看到人们购买了什么。它们有自己的应用商城和操作系统,并把计算能力出租给创业公司。对于自己市场内外发生的活动,它们都拥有“上帝视角”。当某个新产品或服务越来越受欢迎时,它们能够及时模仿,或干脆在这一新贵变成更大的威胁前出手收购。很多人认为,2014年Facebook以220亿美元收购雇员不到60人的即时通讯应用公司WhatsApp就属于消灭潜在竞争对手的“击毙式收购”。通过设置准入门槛和预警系统,数据可以抑制竞争。

Who ya gonna call, trustbusters?

The nature of data makes the antitrust remedies of the past less useful. Breaking up a firm like Google into five Googlets would not stop network effects from reasserting themselves: in time, one of them would become dominant again. A radical rethink is required—and as the outlines of a new approach start to become apparent, two ideas stand out.

你打算盯谁,反垄断者?

数据的特性让过去的反垄断措施不那么有效。把谷歌这样的公司拆解成五个“小谷歌”并不能阻止网络效应重现:假以时日,它们当中的某个会再度确立霸主地位。现在需要彻底反思。随着新方法的轮廓逐渐清晰,两大想法脱颖而出。

The first is that antitrust authorities need to move from the industrial era into the 21st century. When considering a merger, for example, they have traditionally used size to determine when to intervene. They now need to take into account the extent of firms’ data assets when assessing the impact of deals. The purchase price could also be a signal that an incumbent is buying a nascent threat. On these measures, Facebook’s willingness to pay so much for WhatsApp, which had no revenue to speak of, would have raised red flags.Trustbusters must also become more data-savvy in their analysis of market dynamics, for example by using simulations to hunt for algorithms colluding over prices or to determine how best to promote competition. 其一是反垄断机构要从工业时代步入21世纪。例如,在考虑并购时,它们以往习惯根据规模来确定何时介入。现在,在评估交易影响时它们需考虑公司数据资产的范围。收购价格也是个信号,可能预示既有公司意在吞掉新生威胁。根据这些衡量标准,Facebook愿意出如此高价收购并无收入可言的WhatsApp,已经发出了危险信号。反垄断机构在分析市场动态时也必须变得更擅长利用数据,例如通过模拟来寻找合谋控制价格的算法,或是确定怎样能最好地促进竞争。

The second principle is to loosen the grip that providers of online services have over data and give more control to those who supply them. More transparency would help: companies could be forced to reveal to consumers what information they hold and how much money they make from it. Governments could encourage the emergence of new services by opening up more of their own data vaults or managing crucial parts of the data economy as public infrastructure, as India does with its digital-identity system, Aadhaar. They could also mandate the sharing of certain kinds of data, with users’ consent—an approach Europe is taking in financial services by requiring banks to make customers’ data accessible to third parties. 第二条原则是削弱在线服务供应商对数据的掌控力,让提供数据的一方拥有更大的控制权。更高的透明度会有帮助:可以强制要求公司向消费者展示它们掌握的信息,以及从中获利多少。政府可以开放更多自身的数据资源库,或是将数据经济的关键部分作为公共基础设施来管理,从而鼓励新服务的产生,就像印度推动数字身份系统Aadhaar那样。政府还可以规定在征得用户同意的情况下,分享某些类型的数据;欧洲正在金融服务中采用这种方法,要求银行让第三方能够获取客户数据。

Rebooting antitrust for the information age will not be easy. It will entail new risks: more data sharing, for instance, could threaten privacy. But if governments don’t want a data economy dominated by a few giants, they will need to act soon. 在信息时代重启反垄断绝非易事。这会产生新的风险:比如,信息分享增多会威胁到隐私。但如果政府不希望由几大巨头掌控数据经济,那么它们就要尽快行动。

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