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星期五, 4月 14, 2017

Now Hiring: Anyone經濟太復甦也是問題... 丹麥徵人啟事:來者不拒


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紐時周報精選 A Cure for Traffic Jams自駕車減不了車流 要靠經濟學
Now Hiring: Anyone經濟太復甦也是問題... 丹麥徵人啟事:來者不拒
紐時周報精選
 
A Cure for Traffic Jams自駕車減不了車流 要靠經濟學
文/Conor Dougherty
譯/王麗娟

It's easy to get giddy about self-driving cars. Older people and preteens will become more independent and mobile. The scourge of drunken driving will disappear. People will be able to safely play video games while on the freeway to work.

But there is one problem autonomous driving is unlikely to solve: the columns of rush-hour gridlock that clog city streets and freeways. If decades of urban planning and economic research are any guide, the solution is unlikely to come from technology but from something similar to Uber's surge pricing: charging people more to use driverless cars at rush hour.

自駕車很容易令人興奮。老年人和青春期前的孩子因此變得更加獨立,更有移動能力。酒駕的禍害將消失。人們在前往上班的高速公路上,能夠安全的玩電玩。

然而有一個問題不太可能靠自駕解決︰交通尖峰時段車陣塞滿了城市的街道和高速公路。若說過去幾十年的都市計畫和經濟研究可供參考,解決方案不太可能來自科技,而是來自類似於優步的調高定價做法︰向尖峰時刻使用無人駕駛汽車者收取較高的費用。

Not that technology companies aren't trying to find other solutions to congestion. Traffic is one of the few problems that fabulously wealthy people can't buy their way out of. This helps explain why Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, wants to bore subterranean freeways under Los Angeles and build a hyperloop train half the length of California. Or why Larry Page, Google's co-founder, is interested in flying cars.

This is in addition to other, less revolutionary efforts, from companies like Sidewalk Labs, which is owned by Google's parent company and which aims to ease congestion by helping cities make better use of data. And of course there is the self-driving car, which, in addition to making roads safer, is supposed to help manage freeways by smoothing human flaws — like a tendency to engage in antsy braking and sudden lane changes — that make traffic worse.

倒不是科技公司沒有在努力找出解決塞車問題的其他辦法。車流是再富有的人也無法靠花錢避開的少數問題之一。這有助於解釋,為何特斯拉汽車和「太空探索公司」創辦人伊隆.馬斯克想挖一條洛杉磯地下高速公路,並且打造有半個加州長度的超迴路列車運輸系統。谷歌創辦人賴瑞. 佩吉又為何對能飛的汽車特別感興趣。

此外,還有來自「人行道實驗室」等公司的一些較不具革命性的努力。這是谷歌母公司旗下的一家公司,設立宗旨是協助各城市藉由更加善用數據資料以紓緩塞車困境。當然還有自駕車,它除了可讓道路更為安全之外,應該還可藉由去除導致交通惡化的人類缺點來增進高速公路的管理,這些人類缺點包括常會猛踩煞車和突然變換車道。

These various technologies share a common theme. One way or another, they promise to expand the nation's roads — literally, in the case of Musk's tunnels, figuratively, in the case of flying cars, and efficiently, in the case of self-driving ones. While it is possible that one or all of these technologies will increase road capacity to the point at which no amount of traffic will fill them, history gives us reasons to be skeptical.

Decades' worth of studies show that whenever cities add roads, new drivers simply fill them up. This isn't because of new development or population growth — although that's part of the story — but because of a vicious cycle in which new roads bring new demand that no amount of further roads can satisfy.

這些不同的科技有著共同的主題。無論如何,他們都必然會使這個國家的道路擴增─以馬斯克的隧道為例,它是真的擴張了道路,飛行車則是象徵性地擴張了道路,至於自駕車,則是從效率面擴張了道路。雖然這些技術中的一項或全部,有可能使道路的容量擴增到車流永遠填不滿的地步,歷史卻給了我們懷疑的理由。

幾十年的研究說明,每當城市新增道路,總會被新的駕車人填滿。這不是因為新的發展或人口成長,雖然這是部分原因,主要還是因為惡性循環,新道路帶來了新需求,結果再多的道路也無法滿足。

This has been studied at rush hour, studied on individual freeway projects and studied with large data sets that encompass nearly every road in the United States. With remarkable consistency, the research finds the same thing: Whenever a road is built or an older road is widened, more people decide to drive more. Build more or widen further, and even more people decide to drive. Repeat to infinity.

這個惡性循環已分別在交通尖鋒時段,針對個別高速公路計畫,以及用幾乎涵蓋美國所有道路的大數據集做過研究。研究結果出現高度一致性,發現了同一件事:每當一條道路建成或一條舊路拓寬時,就會有更多的人決定更常開車。如果再闢建或拓寬更多道路,又會有更多的人決定開車。如此周而復始、無窮無盡。

 
Now Hiring: Anyone經濟太復甦也是問題... 丹麥徵人啟事:來者不拒
文/Liz Alderman
譯/王麗娟

When Peter Enevoldsen won a lucrative order for the precision tractor parts that his company, Sjorring Maskinfabrik, makes in northern Denmark, his eyes lit up. The contract was worth more than half a million euros — a boon for his profits.

There was just one hitch: He did not have enough employees for the job.

Delivery was delayed, by one month, then two, then three, as he searched for skilled welders to speed the work at the sprawling factory. But in Denmark's fast-recovering economy, they were hard to come by.

彼得.艾尼沃森經營的「史澤林工業」公司設在丹麥北部,當他為公司生產的精密曳引機零件拿到一紙高利潤訂單時,雙眼閃閃發亮。這可是張價逾50萬歐元的合約,是他公司獲利的大補帖。

只不過有一個問題:他沒有足夠的員工來應付這張訂單。

交貨因此延遲,先是一個月,然後變成兩個月,再變成三個月,期間他不停尋找有技術的焊工,以加快這龐大工廠裡的工作進度。然而在丹麥經濟快速復甦之際,這樣的焊工卻很難找到。

As Europe rebounds from its economic malaise, Denmark is one of a few countries that can boast of nearing a golden era of full employment, meaning almost everyone who is able and willing to work has a job. But instead of being cheered, it is posing new challenges to the country's recovery.

More than a third of companies in this industrial and technically advanced nation can no longer recruit enough skilled workers to fill posts. Vacancies abound for IT specialists, computer scientists, engineers and mechanics, as well as for electricians and carpenters. The wages needed to lure them are creeping up. Affected firms are scaling back production, turning down contracts and postponing expansion plans.

歐洲經濟正從不景氣中反彈,丹麥是可以誇稱已接近完全就業黃金時代的幾個歐洲國家之一,這意味幾乎每個有能力和意願工作的人都有工作可做。不過,這不但不值得高興,還對丹麥的復甦構成新的挑戰。

在這個工業和技術先進的國家,超過三分之一的公司再也招不到足夠的技術工人。資訊科技專家、電腦科學家、工程師和技工都嚴重缺人,電工和木匠也是。需要用來吸引他們的薪資節節高升。受影響的公司正縮減生產,回絕合約,以及推遲擴張計劃。

"We need more skilled workers, but we can't get them," said Enevoldsen, who recently joined other companies in a nationwide advertising campaign to lure talent. "If the labor shortage continues, it could sharply impact our growth, and growth in general."

Europe's recovery is gaining traction fastest in the north, where Britain, Germany and Denmark's Nordic neighbors also pushing toward full employment. The unemployment rate has fallen in the United States as well, and some economists have expressed optimism the country may be headed in that direction.

But the experience in Denmark shows what can happen with too much of a good thing.

艾尼沃森說:「我們需要更多的技術工人,但是找不到人。若是勞工短缺現象持續,它將嚴重衝擊我們的成長,以及整體的成長。」他最近加入了另一些公司的行列,共同展開一項全國性徵才廣告活動。

歐洲的復甦以北部增長最快,英國、德國和丹麥的北歐鄰國都正朝完全就業邁進。美國的失業率也有所下降,一些經濟學家樂觀表示,美國可能也正朝這個方向前進。

不過,丹麥的經驗說明,情況太好可能讓人受不了。

This country of just under 6 million people produces a diverse range of goods, from drugs to industrial machinery. To bolster its tech sector, the government recently named a "technology ambassador" to conduct relations with Google and other digital giants.

After a painful recession, unemployment is now at 4.3 percent, which is about as low as it can go without provoking inflation. During an economic boom a decade ago, joblessness fell as low as 2.4 percent, igniting an unsustainable spiral of higher wages and prices that the government desperately wants to avoid today.

這個人口略少於600萬的國家生產從藥品到工業機械的各式商品。為了加強其科技部門,政府最近任命了一位「科技大使」,以與谷歌等數位巨擘打好關係。

在經歷痛苦的衰退之後,丹麥目前的失業率為4.3%,大概已達不致引發通貨膨脹的最低水平。10年前丹麥經濟景氣時,失業率下降至2.4%,使得工資和物價出現難以支撐的持續飆漲,這是政府現今極力避免的情況。

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文/王麗娟

 
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