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時間:2022-08-15 來源:本站 點擊:258次

双语热点:从火星、月球到元宇宙 马斯克打造的“科幻世界”******


Elon Musk Is Building a Sci-Fi World, and the Rest of Us Are Trapped in It

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, according to local reports, 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.


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.


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.


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.”


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.


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.”


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.


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. 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。

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.

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。

“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.”


Adams wrote “Hitchhiker’s Guide” 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.”


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.











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