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为什么人类毁灭了自己 – 译学馆
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为什么人类毁灭了自己

Why Humanity Destroyed Itself

如果有一天 人类文明真的消失了
One day, if human civilisation ever wipes itself out,
外星人或者人类的继任者会看一眼我们这颗被毁坏的星球
aliens or one of our successors will cast an eye on our ruined planet,
然后问“智人”身上到底发生了什么
and ask themselves what ever happened to .
他们的回答可能是这样
Their answer might look a little like this.
根本原因不会是某场具体的灾害
The root cause won’t be the specific catastrophe,
冲突或劫难灭绝了我们
conflict or devastation that eradicates us;
问题始于人类大脑的结构
the problem will begin with the architecture of the human brain.
这一工具的一部分将因它的惊人能力而被记住
This tool will be remembered for being, in part, deeply impressive,
这部分包含1000亿个神经元
containing a 100 billion neurons
能够处理极其复杂的运算和组合
capable of extraordinary computations and combinations.
外星人会注意到
As aliens will note,
最惊人的想法产生于大脑的某一特殊区域
a particular part of the mind where our most dazzling thoughts unfolded
神经学家称之为“皮层”
was known to neuroscientists as the neocortex;
人类的大脑皮层比任何其他物种都要大很多倍
a part that in humans was many times larger than that found in any other species.
正是皮层帮助了庞大而聪明的猿产生
This is what helped the hugely clever ape to produce
《魔笛》《安娜 卡列尼娜》协和式飞机以及文明
The Magic Flute, Anna Karenina, Concorde and civilisation.
然而 我们的外星人朋友还会注意到
However, our alien friends will also note
人类大脑还包含另一部分
that the human mind contained another component,
很有影响力但却没那么令人着迷
very influential but far less impressive,
即爬虫类大脑
known as the reptilian brain
(大脑装置中具有攻击性的 充满欲望的 容易冲动的部分)
(an aggressive lustful impulsive section of machinery),
非常类似于
with a great deal more in common
鬣狗和小啮齿动物
with what might be found in a hyena or a small rodent.
正由于这部分爬虫类大脑
Because of this reptilian brain
智人有三大致命问题
ended up with three grave problems:
一 部落制度
Firstly, tribalism.
人类总是容易生出对异族强烈的敌意
Humans were always on the verge of developing violent hatreds of foreigners
而且一直表现出大肆屠杀生人的强烈倾向
and manifested strong ongoing tendencies to slaughter strangers in vast numbers.
他们从来无法确信地看到人性
They could never reliably see the humanity
即使在他们同类的全部成员当中
in all members of their own kind.
第二 智人的思考往往缺乏远见
Secondly, was fatefully prone to short-term thinking.
即使面对数据
Even when confronted by data,
它也只能想象近期的未来 最多几年以后
it could only imagine the near-term future, a few years at best,
把长期看作一个空想的 不真实的状态
viewing the long-term as a chimerical and unreal state.
它的瞬间冲动没有被克制
Its immediate impulses were left uncontained
并且慢慢毁掉了个人和群体的未来
and worked to destroy its individual and collective future.
最后 智人对一厢情愿有种特别强烈的喜爱
Lastly, had an especially keen fondness for wishful thinking.
虽然它的大脑有可能取得巨大智力成果
Though capable of immense intellectual achievement,
但是它讨厌反思自己
its mind hated to reflect on itself,
它无法忍受把想法交由理性细查
it couldn’t bear to submit its ideas to rational scrutiny,
比起思考 它更愿意行动 比起计划 它更愿意空想
it preferred to act rather than think and daydream rather than plan.
虽然发明了科学方法
Having invented the scientific method,
在大多数情况下 它更愿意不使用这种方法
it preferred, in most cases, to not to use it.
对消遣和幻想 它有着被下了药似的欲望
It had a narcotic desire for distraction and fantasy.
它不想了解自己
It didn’t want to know itself.
很多代人多多少少忍受了这三大缺陷
For many generations, these three flaws were more or less endured.
有些特殊的机制被创造出来以克服这些缺陷
Certain institutions were invented to attenuate them:
法律 良政 教育 哲学和科学
the law, sound government, education, philosophy, science.
有点作用
It worked, sort of.
人类确实一直在清除同类中的部分
Humans did keep wiping out swathes of their fellows,
但他们没有战胜全体
but they didn’t scupper the species as a whole.
导致最终毁灭的原因是
What caused the ultimate destruction
不断变大却不受约束的皮层能力
was the increasing yet untrammelled power of the neocortex.
这个强有力的工具最终燃烧起来 拥有了自然力量
This mighty tool eventually managed to capture fire, contain the elements,
并赋予智人神一般的能力统治地球
and give a godlike power over the planet,
而动物普遍来说
while the animal overall
反射弧就如鬣狗那样平静而温和
still operated with reflexes as serene and gentle as those of a hyena.
它所犯错误的成本越变越大
The cost of its mistakes grew ever larger,
它的能力变得不受控制 而它的智慧却仍不稳定而且脆弱
its powers became uncontained while its wisdom remained intermittent and fragile.
最终 它的能力超过了自控范围
Eventually, its might outpaced its capacity for self-control;
它变成了一个拥有核能量的啮齿动物
it became a nuclear armed rodent.
有一样东西本可以拯救人类: 爱
There was one thing that might have saved humanity: love.
尤其是三种不同的爱
And three varieties of love in particular:
第一 对陌生人的爱
Firstly, the love of the stranger;
能把别人和自己一样看待
the capacity to see the other as like oneself
认为别人也值得同等的怜悯和慈善
and worthy of the same mercy and charity.
第二 对还未出生的后世人的爱
Secondly, the love of the unborn:
关心那些目前还未存在的人
the concern for those who do not yet exist
你永远不会认识这些人
and whom one will never know
但是现在你却正在塑造他们的未来
but whose lives one is shaping in the selfish present.
第三 对真理的爱
Thirdly, the love of the truth:
能抵抗幻象和谎言
the strength to resist illusion and lies
并处理好各种令人不悦的事实
and square up to uncomfortable facts of all kinds.
我们不必成为未来的外星人来理解这一切
We don’t need to be aliens of the future to understand all this.
我们现在就能足够清晰地看到那个灾难的场景
We can see the disaster scenario only too well right now.
文明的命运最终并不在于法庭
The fate of civilisation lies ultimately not in the law courts,
投票箱和政府的走道
at the ballot box or in the corridors of governments.
它在于我们是否有能力掌控
It lies in our ability to master
最短视 自私和暴力的冲动
the most short-term, selfish and violent of our impulses
这些冲动存在于我们两耳之间这个稠密的有机物层叠中
active in the dense folds of organic matter between our ears;
在于不断学习弥补
it lies in learning how relentlessly to try to compensate
人类大脑的缺陷性构造
for the flawed architecture of the human mind.

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人类为何最终毁灭?有什么办法可以拯救人类?一切在于大脑!

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