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2016/11/25 第152期 訂閱/退訂看歷史報份
紐時周報精選 The Pentagon's ‘Terminator Conundrum’: Robots That Could Kill on Their Own五角大廈的「終結者難題」:自主殺人武器
How a Changing Climate Is Shaping a Leaf Peeper’s Paradise氣候變遷 秋季賞葉期更長
The Pentagon's ‘Terminator Conundrum’: Robots That Could Kill on Their Own五角大廈的「終結者難題」:自主殺人武器
文/Matthew Rosenberg and John M

The Pentagon's ‘Terminator Conundrum’: Robots That Could Kill on Their Own

The small drone, with its six whirring rotors, swept past the replica of a Middle Eastern village and closed in on a mosque-like structure, its camera scanning for targets.

No humans were remotely piloting the drone, which was nothing more than a machine that could be bought on Amazon. But armed with advanced artificial intelligence software, it had been transformed into a robot that could find and identify the half-dozen men carrying replicas of AK-47s around the village and pretending to be insurgents.



As the drone descended slightly, a purple rectangle flickered on a video feed that was being relayed to engineers monitoring the test. The drone had locked onto a man obscured in the shadows, a display of hunting prowess that offered an eerie preview of how the Pentagon plans to transform warfare.

Almost unnoticed outside defense circles, the Pentagon has put artificial intelligence at the center of its strategy to maintain the United States' position as the world's dominant military power. It is spending billions of dollars to develop what it calls autonomous and semiautonomous weapons and to build an arsenal stocked with the kind of weaponry that until now has existed only in Hollywood movies and science fiction, raising alarm among scientists and activists concerned by the implications of a robot arms race.



The Defense Department is designing robotic fighter jets that would fly into combat alongside manned aircraft. It has tested missiles that can decide what to attack, and it has built ships that can hunt for enemy submarines, stalking those it finds over thousands of miles, without any help from humans.

“If Stanley Kubrick directed ‘Dr. Strangelove’ again, it would be about the issue of autonomous weapons,” said Michael Schrage, a research fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management.



Defense officials say the weapons are needed for the United States to maintain its military edge over China, Russia and other rivals, who are also pouring money into similar research (as are allies, such as Britain and Israel). The Pentagon's latest budget outlined $18 billion to be spent over three years on technologies that included those needed for autonomous weapons.




本文的導言寫作方式屬於descriptive lead,不是開門見山,而是先寫景再帶出主題。標題conundrum的其中一個意思是「謎語」,特別是利用詞語的雙重含義,用雙關語解答的謎語。人頭獅身的Sphinx問伊底帕斯(Oedipus)的謎語就是一個conundrum,答錯會被她吃掉!

標題的conundrum意指「難題」,尤其是「兩難」,往往無解。美國總統歐巴馬的民調支持率不差,為何同黨的希拉蕊仍不敵川普?《紐約客》(The New Yorker)雜誌評為當代一大費解之謎:How Trump's strange rise and Obama's high rating can have coincided in the same moment will remain one of the permanent conundrums of our history.

Eerie除了神秘古怪,更令人感覺毛毛的。康拉德(Joseph Conrad)的短篇小說《暗影邊界》(The Shadow Line)的敘事者形容一片死寂中傳來的怪聲讓他毛骨悚然:These were eerie, disturbing, alarming sounds in the dead stillness of the air around me.

How a Changing Climate Is Shaping a Leaf Peeper’s Paradise氣候變遷 秋季賞葉期更長
文/Craig S. Smith

A century ago, the flaming fall foliage in Nova Scotia would have long faded by early November. But today, some of the hills are still as nubbly with color as an aunt’s embroidered pillow.

Climate change is responsible, scientists say. As the seasonal change creeps later into the year, not only here but all across the northern United States and Canada, the glorious colors will last longer, they predict — a rare instance where global warming is giving us something to look forward to.



“If climate change makes eastern North America drier, then autumn colors will be spectacular, as they are on the Canadian Shield in dry summers, especially the red maples,” said Root Gorelick, a biology professor at Carleton University in Ottawa. The Canadian Shield is a broad ring of forests and ancient bedrock that extends hundreds of miles from the shores of Hudson Bay.

Over the very long term, the warming planet may have a negative effect on fall foliage, but even then any adverse impact is uncertain. It is not just an aesthetic question, but an economic one as well: The changing colors drive billions of dollars in “leaf peeping” tourism in Canada and the United States.



“From a peeper’s point of view, it’s good news,” said Marco Archetti, the lead author of a 2013 paper at Harvard on predicting climate change impacts on autumn colors in New England.

We only have to read Henry David Thoreau to know that climate change is pushing the changing colors later into the year. He spent a lot of time tramping around his native Concord, Massachusetts, making notes on how plants changed with the seasons.



“In general, peak leaf color in Concord and the surrounding Boston area for these maples is now more typically a week or two later” than what Thoreau observed, said Richard Primack, a biology professor at Boston University. He has been using Thoreau’s records and satellite images to track the effect of climate change on local plant cycles.

The Harvard study, which looked at the percentage and duration of autumn color in Harvard Forest in central Massachusetts from 1993 to 2010, predicted that with current climate change forecasts, the duration of the fall display would increase about one day for every 10 years.





歐陽修〈秋聲賦〉:「夫秋,刑官也」,可視為秋天對(犯)人的影響;「草拂之而色變,木遭之而葉脫」則是對植物的衝擊。紐時介紹全球暖化對秋季「賞葉」(leaf peeping)活動的影響,日文是「紅葉狩」(Momijigari)、中文常說「賞楓」,英語用法不限於賞楓,賞葉人是leaf peeper。

全球暖化延遲且拉長賞葉季的時間,作者稱為「百害一利」。暖化的影響不僅是一片楓葉一片情的美感體驗(aesthetic),更牽涉到數十億美元獲利的實際問題,美國東北的新英格蘭區是賞葉勝地(leaf peeping destination),每年都大發觀光財:Leaf peeping, the pastime of enjoying autumn foliage, brings in $1bn each year to New England.

Foliage指樹葉,一簇葉子、枝葉、葉叢,為不可數名詞。報導舉例的美國大思想家梭羅,在名著《湖濱散記》(Walden)中提到觀察某處著實怪異的草木(a truly grotesque vegetation)時描述,其枝葉形似建築圖案(architectural foliage)的程度比其他樹葉更古老更具代表性。

走趟台灣胡麻之鄉 品嚐正宗胡麻油的芳香

侯孝賢與楊德昌 《青梅竹馬》的戀戀風塵
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