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Leaders Imperial ambitions

社论精粹 帝国野心

Mark Zuckerberg prepares to fight for dominance of the next era of computing

马克 · 扎克伯格准备为争夺下一个计算时代的统治地位而战

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NOT since the era of imperial Rome has the "thumbs-up" sign been such a potent and public symbol of power. A mere 12 years after it was founded, Facebook is a great empire with a vast population, immense wealth, a charismatic leader, and mind-boggling reach and influence. The world's largest social network has 1.6 billion users, a billion of whom use it every day for an average of over 20 minutes each. In the Western world, Facebook accounts for the largest share of the most popular activity ( social networking ) on the most widely used computing devices ( smart phones ) ; its various apps account for 30% of mobile internet use by Americans. And it is the sixth-most-valuable public company on Earth, worth some $325 billion.

自罗马帝国时代以来," 竖起大拇指 " 这一手势就成为了公开且有力的权力象征。成立仅十二年之后,Facebook 已成为一个伟大的帝国,人口众多、财富无数、领袖魅力非凡,且影响力和影响范围令人难以想象。这一全球最大的社交网络拥有 16 亿用户,其中十亿每天平均使用时间超过 20 分钟。在西方世界,Facebook 在最广泛使用的计算设备 ( 智能手机 ) 上的最受欢迎的活动 ( 社交网络 ) 中所占份额最大 ; 它各种各样的应用占美国人移动互联网使用的 30%。它是全球市值第六大的上市公司,价值 3250 亿美元。

Even so, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's 31-year-old founder and chief executive, has even greater ambitions. He has plans to connect the digitally unconnected in poor countries by beaming internet signals from solar-powered drones, and is making big bets on artificial intelligence ( AI ) , "chatbots" and virtual reality ( VR ) . This bid for dominance will bring him into increasing conflict with the other great empires of the technology world, and Google in particular. The ensuing battle will shape the digital future for everyone.

即便如此,31 岁的 Facebook 创始人及首席执行官马克 · 扎克伯格 ( Mark Zuckerberg ) 仍有更宏伟的志向。他计划用太阳能供电的无人机发送互联网信号,以连接贫困国家尚未连入数字世界的人,他在人工智能 ( AI ) 、聊天机器人和虚拟现实 ( VR ) 上押下重注。对统治地位的竞逐会令他和科技世界其他伟大帝国之间的冲突不断增加,尤其是同谷歌之间。今后的战斗将为每个人塑造数字化的未来。

Facebook has prospered by building compelling services that attract large audiences, whose attention can then be sold to advertisers. The same is true of Google. The two play different roles in their users' lives: Google has masses of data about the world, whereas Facebook knows about you and your friends; you go to Google to get things done, but turn to Facebook when you have time to kill. Yet their positions of dominance and their strategies are becoming remarkably similar. Unparalleled troves of data make both firms difficult to challenge and immensely profitable, giving them the wealth to make bold bets and to deal with potential competitors by buying them. And both firms crave more users and more data — which, for all the do-gooding rhetoric, explains why they are both so interested in extending internet access in the developing world, using drones or, in Google's case, giant balloons.

Facebook 打造多个引人瞩目的服务吸引大量用户,继而将用户的关注卖给广告商,以此取得成功。谷歌也是如此。这两大公司在其用户的生活中扮演着不同的角色:谷歌拥有关于这个世界的大量数据,而 Facebook 了解你和你的朋友 ; 你用谷歌是为了完成任务,但要打发时间时你会找 Facebook。然而它们的统治地位和战略正变得越来越相似。无与伦比的数据宝藏让两家公司都难有敌手,且获利颇丰,它们的财富足以掷下豪注并且通过收购解决潜在竞争者。这两家公司渴求更多用户、更多数据,用冠冕堂皇的说法,这解释了为何它们都对在发展中国家扩展互联网连接兴趣浓厚,Facebook 使用无人机,谷歌则使用巨型气球。

The task is to harness data to offer new services and make money in new ways. Facebook's bet on AI is a recognition that "machine learning" — in which software learns by crunching data, rather than having to be explicitly programmed — is a big part of the answer.

现在的任务是利用数据提供新的服务,以新的方式赚钱。Facebook 在人工智能方面的赌注是对 " 机器学习 " 的认可,即软件通过分析数据学习,而不需要精确编写程序。

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