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商业 - 科技

TED大会现场报道:斯诺登隔空现身喊冤

Adam Lashisky 2014年03月25日

斯诺登接受了现场主持人的视频连线。他为自己辩护说,隐私权很重要,因为你永远不知道你什么时候需要它。他还号召美国的大型网络公司对用户的网站访问进行加密,把它设定为默认设置,以防止包括美国在内的各国政府轻易地获取美国公民的行为信息。

    TED大会主持人克里斯•安德森在2014温哥华TED大会上采访斯诺登

    “TED”是英文“科技、娱乐、设计”(technology, entertainment, design)三个词的缩写,除了那三个醒目的红色大字以外,还真是难以三言两语把它说清。TED大会最出名的就是那些限时18分钟的精彩演讲,本周二,TED讲台上的许多最出色的演讲人也是照着稿子念的。尽管TED大会的讲台可以说是世界上最重要的讲台之一,但大多数知名演讲人都是穿着运动鞋上台的。(女性演讲者倾向于穿得更职业、更时尚,男士们根据大会的传统都不打领带。)

    今年的TED大会于本周在温哥华港口的一座会展中心召开,这次大会最令我惊讶的是演讲的质量参差不齐。据说大会主办方之前让演讲人们反复排练,以求个个讲出乔布斯的范儿,因此我原以为每场演讲都会“震”到我。但是再想一想,就觉得我的奢望太不切实际了。另外,评价一场演讲到底好不好也是件非常主观的事。最让我赞叹的是整场大会的制作水准。流程的无缝衔接简直无可挑剔,而且内容本身不拘一格,简直就像一场内容最紧凑的大学研讨会。

    布兰•费伦是一名“科技设计师”,曾经在迪士尼(Disney)担任“想象工程师”。他的演讲就是证明TED的精彩性和多样性的极好例子。他的演讲几乎没有任何视觉效果,只是照本宣科地念,但是内容却非常吸引人。他把互联网比做混凝土,虽然是一种有价值的建筑材料,但也就不过如此。他认为“自动驾驶汽车”将是未来一些年里人类文明最积极的进步之一,理由也是我听过的之中最令人信服的——自动驾驶汽车的技术一旦成熟了,不仅能降低污染,缓解交通拥堵,而且由于我们不用再花很多时间堵在路上,我们还能“重获大量损失的生产力”。但是在这个项目仍然有一些障碍还没有跨越,比如教会汽车怎样“唤醒”乘客,让他们向汽车输入关于周边环境的那些最好由人来分析的指令。

    我个人认为,当天最精彩的一场演讲当属建筑师马克•库什纳就近30年的建筑史所作的发言。他说建筑师们经常在创新(他们自己喜欢但大众讨厌)和标志性建筑(他们自己不喜欢但大众觉得舒服)之间摇摆不定。他说:“标志性建筑既简单又便宜,我们不是建造某个空间,而是建造某个地方的标志物。”不过库什纳也表示,数字媒体的发展正在改变一切。现在在项目建设的同时,建筑师们就能够从客户和大众那里获得实时反馈。比如说约纽的火烧岛上有一栋楼就是他的公司设计的。从设计完成进入施工阶段开始,他们公司就把图纸放在Facebook和Instagram上。这样,居民们就知道楼建好后会是什么样子,而且他们也很喜欢这栋建筑。

    第二天的另一个惊喜就是“棱镜门”的爆料者斯诺登出现在大屏幕上。TED大会的负责人克里斯•安德森借助远程视频系统对斯诺登进行了采访,而斯诺登本人则隐身于俄罗斯某地。斯诺登的演讲非常吸引人,也有种启示录的味道。他言语间给人的感觉非常理智、聪明,令人信服。他为自己的行为进行了强有力的辩解。他说:“我是谁根本不重要,重要的是那些问题。”斯诺登充满激情地探讨的“那些问题”也就是被他的前雇主——美国国家安全局(the National Security Agency)粗暴践踏的隐私权问题。斯诺登说:“你的权利很重要,因为你永远不知道你什么时候需要它,它也是美国人的文化特性的一部分。”他号召美国的大型网络公司对用户的网站访问进行加密,把它设定为默认设置,以防止包括美国在内的各国政府轻易地获取美国公民的行为信息。

    TED, which stands for 'technology, entertainment and design," is almost impossible to characterize beyond that ridiculously broad rubric. Best known for its slick, 18-minute "talks," some of the best speakers on Tuesday read from their typewritten texts. Most of its highly accomplished speakers wear sneakers despite being on one of the world's most important stages. (Female speakers are more likely to dress professionally and stylishly; the men have been cowed by tradition into not wearing neckties.)

    My biggest surprise so far at TED, taking place this week at a convention center on the harbor in Vancouver, is the uneven quality of the talks. Knowing the Steve Jobs-like rehearsal regimen TED's producers impose on presenters, I expected to be wowed by every talk. But upon reflection, that just wasn't realistic on my part. Besides, judging a speech is a highly subjective endeavor. What sings every time is the production value of the entire conference. The seamless flow is nothing short of stunning, and the content itself in an eclectic collection of lectures that can best be described as the most intense college seminar you never attended.

    Bran Ferren, a "technology designer" who once was a Disney "Imagineer," is a case in point of the TED serendipity and diversity. With almost no visuals, he read a speech that was the opposite of slick -- and totally engaging. He likened the Internet to concrete, a valuable building material but no more than that. He gave perhaps the most compelling explanation I've heard for why what he called "autonomous vehicles" will be one of the most positive developments for civilization for years to come. Self-driving cars, once they are perfected, will reduce pollution, eliminate congestion and "recapture vast amounts of lost productivity," said Ferren, due to all the time humans no longer will be stuck in traffic. There are a few kinks left to be worked out, like teaching cars how to "wake up" their passengers for input about surroundings best left to a human to analyze.

    The best talk of the day, in my book, was a rollicking presentation on three decades of architectural history by the architect Marc Kushner. He lucidly explained that architects swing on a predictable pendulum from innovation (which they love but the public often hates) to symbols (which bore them but the public finds comforting). "Symbols are easy and cheap," said Kushner, with architectural disdain. "Instead of making places, we make symbols of places." Good news though: Kushner says digital media is changing everything because architects now have the ability to seek real-time feedback from their clients and the public as their projects are being built. He cited a public building on Fire Island in New York that his firm designed and posted drawings about on Facebook and Instagram as it moved from planning to construction. He said residents already knew what to expect by the time the innovative building was finished. And they liked it.

    Edward Snowden was Day 2's surprise highlight. Chris Anderson, TED's "curator," interviewed a robot that moved around the stage with a video screen with Snowden's face broadcast from his undisclosed location in Russia. Listening to Snowden speak at length was riveting and revelatory. He comes across as totally reasonable, sane and convincing. He made a strong case for his motivations, love him or hate him. "Who I am doesn't really matter at all," Snowden said. "What matters are the issues." The issues that Snowden passionately argued are the rights to privacy he says his former contract employer, the National Security Agency, has trampled. "Your rights matter because you never know when you're going to need them," he said. "They are part of our cultural identity" as Americans. Snowden also called on big U.S. Internet companies to encrypt web browsing on their sites as a default setting, which would prevent governments, including the U.S., from gaining easy access to the behavior of U.S. citizens.    

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