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【连线】硅谷折叠

【连线】硅谷折叠

从果树林演变而来的硅谷是很多人向往的科技圣地,人才、技术、创新思想在那里聚集。但是,这座经历着“科技淘金热”的城市,有外界想象的那么美好吗?


硅谷的四种折叠人生

【连线】硅谷折叠

者:Antonio García Martínez

译者:何翔宇

校对:刘   璠

编辑:周豫才


HOW SILICON VALLEY FUELS AN INFORMAL CASTE SYSTEM

硅谷塑造的社会等级体系


本文选自 WIRED | 取经号原创翻译

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CALIFORNIA IS THE future of the United States, goes the oft-cited cliché. What the US is doing now, Europe will be doing in five years, goes another. Given those truthy maxims, let’s examine the socioeconomics of the “City by the Bay” as a harbinger of what’s to come.

人们常说,“加州引领着美国的未来”,“美国领先欧洲五年”。基于这样的格言,让我们通过审视海湾之城的社会经济现状,来寻觅未来发展的方向。

maxim /’mæksɪm/ n. a saying that is widely accepted on its own merits 格言;座右铭

harbinger /’hɑːbɪndʒə/ n. an indication of the approach of something or someone 预言者,预兆


Data shows that technology and services make up a large fraction of citywide employment. It also shows that unemployment and housing prices follow the tech industry’s boom-and-bust cycle. Amid the current boom, a family of four earning $117,400 now qualifies as low-income in San Francisco. Some readers laughed when I wrote in a memoir about working at Facebook that my six-figure compensation made me “barely middle class.” As it turns out, I wasn’t far off. With that credential, consider this rumination on bougie life inside the San Francisco bubble, which seems consistent with the data and the experience of other local techies.

数据表明,科技和服务行业从业者在城市就业人数中占据很大比例。失业率和房价的变化趋势与科技行业的繁荣与萧条紧密相关。在当前的繁荣下,一个年收入117,400美元的四口之家在旧金山只能算低收入人群。当我在回忆录中写到脸书支付给我的六位数补偿金仅仅能够让我勉强挤入中产阶级时,一些读者是感到怀疑的。然而事实证明,我并未越过中产阶级线多少。以我本人的经历为佐证,再来反思旧金山地区中产阶级内部的泡沫,得出的结论与上述数据以及当地技术人员的经历似乎是相一致的。

rumination /ˌru:məˈneɪʃən/ n. a calm lengthy intent consideration 反刍,沉思

bougie(bourgeoisie) /ˌbʊəʒwɑː’ziː/ n. the social class between the lower and upper classes 小资产阶级;中产阶级


San Francisco residents seem to be divided into four broad classes, or perhaps even castes:

旧金山居民似乎被分成了四种广义上的阶级,或是甚至可以说是四个社会等级

caste /kɑ:st/  n. (Hinduism) a hereditary social class among Hindus; stratified according to ritual purity 印度世袭的社会等级


The Inner Party of venture capitalists and successful entrepreneurs who run the tech machine that is the engine of the city’s economy.

第一阶层是核心层,由风险投资家和成功的企业家组成。他们掌握作为城市经济引擎的科技公司。


The Outer Party of skilled technicians, operations people, and marketers that keep the trains belonging to the Inner Party running on time. They are paid well, but they’re still essentially living middle-class lives—or what lives the middle class used to have.

第二阶层是外围层,由技术、运营和市场人员组成。他们为第一阶层服务,维持着社会经济的发展。他们报酬丰厚,但依然过着中产阶级的生活——或者说,过去中产阶级的生活。


The Service Class in the “gig economy.” In the past, computers filled hard-for-humans gaps in a human value chain. Now humans fill hard-for-software gaps in a software value chain. These are the jobs that AI hasn’t managed to eliminate yet, where humans are expendable cogs in an automated machine: Uber drivers, Instacart shoppers, TaskRabbit manual labor, etc.

第三阶层是服务层,主要是零工经济中的服务人群。过去,电脑填补了人力价值链中人类难以触及的领域。现在,人类反过来填补软件产业价值链的空缺。在诸如Uber司机、Instacart配送员、TaskRabbit的体力劳动者这些人工智能还未能征服的服务性领域中,这些人就像是自动化机器上的小齿轮一般,随时可被取代替换。

cog /kɒg/ n. tooth on the rim of gear wheel (大机构中的)无足轻重的成员


Lastly, there’s the Untouchable class of the homeless, drug addicted, and/or criminal. These people live at the ever-growing margins: the tent cities and areas of hopeless urban blight. The Inner Party doesn’t even see them, the Outer Party ignores them, and the Service Class eyes them warily; after all, they could end up there.

最后一个阶层包括了流浪者、吸毒者以及罪犯。他们寄居在日益扩大的城市边缘,睡在帐篷里,住在肮脏破败的区域。第一阶层见不到他们,第二阶层忽视他们,第三阶层侧目而过。毕竟,他们的人生基本已有定数。


Mobility among the castes seems minimal. An Outer Party member could reach the Inner Party by chancing into an early job at a lottery-ticket company (such as Facebook or Google) or by becoming a successful entrepreneur. But that’s rare; most of the Outer Party prefers working for the Inner Party, gradually accumulating equity through stock grants and appreciating real estate.

阶层与阶层间的流动性很差。外围层的那些技术、运营、市场人员也许可能因为碰巧抢占先机进入了一家潜力股公司(如脸书或谷歌),或者变身为企业家,从而进入核心层。不过这种情况并不多见。他们中的大部分人更喜欢为老板们打工,通过手持公司股票和投资房地产来增值。


The Service Class will likely never be able to drive/shop/handyman enough to rise to the Outer Party, at least not without additional training or skills. They’re mostly avoiding the descent to Untouchable status, while dealing with precarious gigs that disappear semi-regularly. Uber, for example, has made no bones about its intent to replace its drivers with robots. Delivery bots have already been deployed on city streets, though they were later restricted.

服务层的人们是不太可能通过工作来积累资本,以摆脱作为司机/配送员/手艺人的命运,进入上一个社会阶层的,至少在没有额外的训练与技能的情况下是不可能的。他们挣扎于不稳定的零工之间,时不时为失业担忧,同时还要尽力避免跌落至社会最底层的厄运。比如,Uber无所顾忌地打算使用机器人代替人工司机;商品配送机器人在被政府禁止前也已经走上街道。

make no bones about 对…毫不犹豫;毫无顾忌


There are of course people outside this taxonomy. There are longtime property owners (and renters) who view the tech boom warily, even if the former benefit from rising property prices. (Peter Thiel, that ever-entertaining VC, recently groused about how his hard-raised capital was disappearing into the greedy mouths of “slumlords.”)

当然,还有人存活在这个四级体系之外。长期房产持有者(和承租人)谨慎地观望着这股科技热潮,即使前者已经从上涨的房价中获利。(风险资本家Peter Thiel近来抱怨道,他苦苦挣来的钱是如何进入那些暴利的房东的口袋的。)

grouse /graʊs/ vi. To complain or grumble 埋怨

slumlord /ˈslʌmlɔ:d; NAmE -lɔ:rd/ noun (NAmE, informal) a person who owns houses or flats/ apartments in a poor area and who charges very high rent for them even though they are in bad condition (收取高额租金的)贫民窟房东


There are also workers in more traditional, non-tech industries. In more economically diverse cities like New York, they serve to brake the boom effect of tech’s rise. In San Francisco, though, their lives are increasingly impossible in a city taken over by tech, and the socioeconomic stratification it fosters. I was a tenuous member of the Outer Party, and my partner is a relatively well-remunerated non-tech professional, but we likely won’t be able to remain in the San Francisco Bay Area, particularly with a child in tow.

还有一些人从事着传统的非技术工作。在经济更多元化的纽约,这些工作可以抑制因科技发展带来的繁荣效应。而在旧金山这座被科技支配且致使社会分层的城市里,这些工种的从业者们几乎难以为继。我自己算是第二阶级的普通一员,我的夫人是一位报酬相对较高的非科技行业专业人士。但我们这种情况在湾区却很可能难以继续生活下去,尤其是我们还有个孩子。

stratification /ˌstrætɪfɪ’keɪʃən/ n. the act or process or arranging persons into classes or social strata 层化,成层,阶层的形成

tenuous /ˈtenjuəs/ adj. so weak or uncertain that it hardly exists 脆弱的;微弱的;缥缈的

remunerate /rɪˈmju:nəreɪt/ verb [VN] [usually passive] ~ sb (for sth) (formal) to pay sb for work that they have done 酬劳;付酬给


Outside San Francisco’s 49 square miles of unreality, economies like those of Europe have a social safety net to dampen the hardships for the lower classes. They also defend traditional industries and labor practices, in a (probably) futile effort to stem the threat from automation. Uber is banned in several places in Europe, and taxi drivers have mounted occasionally violent protests at the automation intrusion. Barcelona, one of Airbnb’s largest European markets, cracked down on that company’s rental listings, out of fears that large swaths of the old town center were becoming a huge Airbnb hotel.

和旧金山不同,欧洲经济有一道安全保障网保护着底层的人们,同样也捍卫着传统行业和劳动惯例,即使在自动化的进程中这些措施很可能是徒劳的。Uber在一些欧洲地区被禁止。出租车司机不时会发起面向自动驾驶的激烈的抗议活动。巴塞罗那作为Airbnb最大的欧洲市场,由于担心老城区变成一个巨大的Airbnb宾馆,对其网站列表上的出租房进行了打击。


As quixotic as the European Neo-Luddism might be, it does make for a pleasant place to live. One of the most refreshing things about living in Europe (or small towns in the rural US) is knowing that the poor aren’t condemned to a completely separate, and inferior, life. Your place in the world isn’t wholly defined by wealth.

尽管和新卢德主义一样不切实际,这些措施确实创造了宜居环境。居住在欧洲(或者美国的乡村小镇)最令人欣喜的一点是,穷人们不会过着完全隔离的卑微生活。人的社会地位并不完全由财富来定义。

quixotic /kwɪk’sɒtɪk/ adj. not sensible about practical matters; unrealistic 堂吉诃德式的,愚侠的,不切实际的

Neo-Luddism Neo-Luddism is a leaderless movement of non-affiliated groups who resist modern technologies and dictate a return of some or all technologies to a more primitive level.


The story is rather different in San Francisco.

而在旧金山,则是另外一幅景象了。


There, the Outer Party, whose consumer life consists of telling mobile apps to tell humans to do things, has a different relationship with the Service Class. As an Instacart user for example, you’ll often have a person of color come to your door, laden with the groceries you couldn’t bother to buy yourself, and whose total value likely exceeds what they’ll make in a day of hefting and following Instacart prompts. Often, the order will contain errors, revealing that the buyer didn’t quite know what he was buying (fancy cheeses are particularly risky). You’ll peck at the app and leave a tip to assuage your conscience and avoid thinking about the soaring—and largely unshared—returns to technology and capital.

第二阶层的人们和从事服务工作的人们有着不寻常的关系。他们的消费生活是由手机应用和服务行业的从业者组成的,即通过手机应用指挥他人工作。如果你是一个Instacart用户,经常会有不同肤色的人把商品送到你家,免去你出门购买的麻烦。而这些物品的总价值往往超过了配送员一天配送限时订单的劳动所得。订单通常会出错,说明其实买家并不一定清楚他究竟买了些什么(品种繁复的奶酪是重灾区)。你会在应用上留下小费来抚慰自身良心的不安,并避免去思考由技术和资本带来的垄断性的高额回报。

assuage /ə’sweɪdʒ/ vt. cause to be more favorably inclined, gain the good will of;satisfy (thirst);provide physical relief, as from pain 缓和;减轻;平息


This, of course, is a burgeoning dystopic nightmare. But it is the vision of the future that San Francisco offers: highly stratified, with little social mobility. It’s feudalism with better marketing. Today’s “sharing” economy resembles the “sharecropping” of yesteryear, with the serfs responding to a smartphone prompt rather than an overseer’s command.

这无疑是一个糟透了的假想情形。但这就是旧金山未来的图景:等级森严,社会流动性低。这其实是一种市场环境较好的封建社会。现今的共享经济类似于旧时的分封制。只是旧时农奴听令于监工,而如今人们则受命于手机。

burgeon /’bɜːdʒ(ə)n/  v. grow and flourish 迅速发展

dystopic adj. relating to or denoting an imagined state or society where there is great suffering or injustice; dystopian.

sharecropping a form of agriculture in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a share of the crops produced on their portion of land


Inequality rarely decreases, and when it does it’s often as the result of wars, revolutions, pandemics, or state collapse. If there’s any nonviolent political hope here, it’s probably to be found among the Outer Party. The Inner Party lives estranged from reality. But the Outer Party still has to teach their kids not to pick up street needles and occasionally feels the depredations of crime to person or property (our household has experienced both within the past few months). Though the Outer Party has little collective identity, they have common interests around street cleanliness, crime, schools, and transit. Those interests expressed themselves in the recent mayoral election, where pro-development, pro-techie London Breed, a favorite among the tech Outer Party, narrowly defeated two mutually endorsing candidates in an electoral nail-biter. Breed broke from typical San Francisco progressive politics, proposing to eliminate homeless camps via government conservatorship (essentially forced institutionalization). Perhaps a city founded in a literal gold rush can foster a newfound civic spirit, at least among the gold miners, while in the midst of a figurative gold rush. 

不平等不会消失。只有战争、革命、流行病和国家灭亡才能改变它。仅存的非暴力政治希望寄托在第二阶级身上。顶层的人们脱离现实。而第二阶层的人们还需要告诫自己的孩子不要随便捡拾街上的注射器针头,并不时对人身或财产的安全感到担忧(我们一家在过去几个月内经历了上述两者)。尽管没什么集体认同感,第二阶层还是在街区环境、犯罪率控制、学校教育、交通运输等方面有着共同利益。最近的市长选举体现了他们的诉求。经过紧张的角逐,支持发展、支持科技人员的Breed赢得了第二阶层中科技人员的支持,堪堪击败了两个互相支持的候选人。她的执政理念不同于旧金山典型的进步政治观点,提议政府接管安置无家可归者(实际上是指强制收容)。或许,一座在淘金热中兴起的城市,如今可以至少在“科技淘金者”中培养起新的公民精神。

estrange /ɪ’streɪn(d)ʒ/ v. to make hostile, unsympathetic, or indifferent; alienate to remove from an accustomed place or set of associations  vt. 使疏远(尤指家庭成员之间)


The pessimist in me, however, thinks San Francisco can only continue further down this path, with the old-money propertied class dying or cashing out, the non-techies getting squeezed, and everyone getting pushed into the four-level hierarchy. In case there’s any doubt, I find the growth of this rigid caste system horrifying, and antithetical to both liberal democracy and the American project. It also seems that, at least in San Francisco, we’re close to a point of no return. Whether that’s true elsewhere remains to be seen.

然而,我悲观地认为,旧金山会沿着当前的道路继续走下去:拥有世袭财富的阶级趋于没落或逐渐把资产变现,非技术人员遭到压榨,每个人都被塞进四个等级中。也许有人质疑,但我认为这个僵硬的等级制度让人感到害怕,也与自由民主制和美国梦相违背。至少在旧金山,我们已经快要走到无法挽回的地步。其它地区尚待分晓。

Old money usually refers to people who are part of long-established, upper-class families and who have wealth that has been inherited over several generations. 

antithetical /ˌæntɪ’θetɪk(ə)l/ adj. being in diametrical opposition 正相反的; 对立的


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【连线】硅谷折叠


<原文链接:https://www.wired.com/story/how-silicon-valley-fuels-an-informal-caste-system/>

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