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送交者: icemessenger[♂☆★★★SuperMod★★★☆♂] 于 2023-06-10 1:37 已读 1643 次 1 赞  


Don’t bet against the ‘suitcase principle’ of white-collar work

Humans have a remarkable ability to create jobs for themselves — whatever the progress of technology. 6park.com


In 1984, the journalist Steven Levy wrote a great article about the electronic spreadsheet, a new invention which was saving people huge amounts of time. He told the story of an accountant who got “a rush task, sat down with his micro and his spreadsheet, finished it in an hour or two, and left it on his desk for two days. Then he Fed Ex-ed it to the client and got all sorts of accolades for working overtime.” 6park.com

1984年,记者史蒂文•列维(Steven Levy)撰写了一篇关于电子表格的伟大文章,电子表格那时是一项新发明,可以为人们节省大量时间。他讲述了一个会计的故事,这个会计接到了“一项紧急任务,他坐在他的微型电脑前,用电子表格在一两个小时内完成了任务,然后就把它晾在桌子上。两天后,他才用联邦快递(FedEx)把它寄给了客户,并因加班而收获了各种各样的赞扬。” 6park.com

I’ve spent the past few weeks meeting lawyers, accountants and consultants who are beginning to use generative AI in their everyday work. They all talk about the time savings involved in having the AI do technical research for them, or the first drafts of documents or provisions. 6park.com

过去几周,我会见了一些律师、会计师和顾问,他们开始在日常工作中使用生成式人工智能。他们都在谈论用人工智能为他们做技术研究或文件和条款的初稿所节省的时间。 6park.com

I was curious about what they were doing with the saved time. Going home early? Having longer lunches? Stupid question. They’re using the time to do more work. 6park.com

我很好奇他们用节省下来的时间做了什么。早点回家?用更长时间享用午餐?这是个愚蠢的问题。他们在利用节省的时间做更多的工作。 6park.com


White-collar workers demonstrated the same tendency in the pandemic. A global survey of people in 27 countries published this year found that working from home saved about two hours of commute time per week per worker in 2021 and 2022. What did people do with it? According to the survey, they devoted the biggest chunk of it — about 40 per cent — to doing more work, with smaller amounts spent on leisure and childcare. 6park.com

在这次疫情中,白领中也显现出了同样的趋势。今年发布的一项针对27个国家的全球调查发现,在2021年和2022年,居家办公可以为每个员工每周节省约两小时的通勤时间。人们用节省下来的时间做了什么呢?调查显示,他们将大部分时间(约40%)用于做更多的工作,而用于休闲和照顾孩子的时间则较少。 6park.com


Online calendars and remote meeting software, meanwhile, seem to have encouraged people to fill up each other’s days even more. 6park.com

与此同时,在线日历和远程会议软件似乎在鼓励人们更多地占用彼此的时间。 6park.com


“Now, people generally look at diaries and the first thing they do is look for a 15-minute gap, and it just gets taken,” one consultant tells me. “My biggest challenge is finding time to eat lunch.” 6park.com

一位咨询师告诉我:“现在大多数人都会看日记,而他们做的第一件事就是找一个15分钟的间隙,然而时间早被填满。我最大的挑战是抽出时间吃午饭。” 6park.com


I’ve come to think of this as the “suitcase principle” of white-collar work: just as you always fill your up suitcase whether you’re going away for a weekend or a week, white-collar work always seems to expand to fill the time available. 6park.com

我认为这是白领工作的“手提箱原则”:就像不管你是出差一周还是一个周末,你的手提箱总是装得满满的,白领的工作似乎一直在增加,以填满所有可用时间。 6park.com


What happened after the invention of spreadsheets is an instructive example of how time-saving technology can create more work. The days when accountants could sit back and relax didn’t last long. By time Levy was writing, the new technology was already reshaping demand. 6park.com

电子表格发明后所发生的事情是一个很有启发性的例子,即省时的技术可以制造更多工作。会计师可以闲下来放松的日子并没有持续太久。在列维写那篇文章的时候,这项新技术已经在重塑需求。 6park.com


People began to expect work to be done quicker because they knew it could be done quicker. More importantly, spreadsheets vastly expanded what kind of analysis was possible. 6park.com

人们开始期待工作更快完成,因为他们知道工作“可以”被更快完成。更重要的是,电子表格极大地扩展了分析的可能性。 6park.com


Suddenly, businesses could keep track of things which previously went unmonitored because they would have taken too much time to calculate, such as the daily performance rankings of sales employees. And with the push of a few buttons, it was now possible to model all kinds of different scenarios: what would happen to the bottom line if we cut the pension plan, or sold that factory, or acquired this company in a hostile takeover? 6park.com

突然之间,企业可以跟踪从前因为需要花费太多时间来计算而没有监控的东西,比如销售人员的每日绩效排名。而现在只需按下几个按钮,就可以模拟各种不同的场景:如果我们削减养老金计划、或者卖掉那家工厂、又或是恶意收购某家公司,利润会发生什么变化呢? 6park.com


These new capabilities shaped the course of corporate history, and they also created tonnes more work for people to do. Many thousands of jobs as accounting clerks disappeared, as will those jobs today which consist mostly of tasks that AI can do cheaper, such as copywriters. But that doesn’t mean there will be less white-collar work overall. Demand and expectations might well expand as different products and services become possible. 6park.com

这些新功能塑造了企业的历史进程,也为人们制造了大量的工作。成千上万类似于会计文员的工作消失了,而如今,那些人工智能可以以更低成本胜任的工作岗位也将消失,比如文案人员。但这并不意味着白领工作总体上会减少。随着不同的产品和服务成为可能,需求和期望很可能会扩大。 6park.com


My “suitcase principle” is not, it turns out, a particularly original thought. In an essay in the Economist in 1955, C Northcote Parkinson described the same phenomenon in the civil service. According to “Parkinson’s law”, officials like to multiply their subordinates and they all tend to make work for each other. 6park.com

事实证明,我的“手提箱原则”并不是一个特别新颖的想法。在1955年《经济学人》(The Economist)的一篇文章中,C•诺思科特•帕金森(C Northcote Parkinson)描述了公职人员中与此相同的现象。根据“帕金森氏定律”,官员们希望大大增加下属数量,而且他们往往都想要为彼此制造工作。 6park.com


He describes the arrival of an incoming document: “Official E decides that it falls within the province of F, who places a draft reply before C, who amends it drastically before consulting D, who asks G to deal with it. But G goes on leave at this point, handing the file over to H, who drafts a minute, which is signed by D and returned to C, who revises his draft accordingly and lays the new version before A.” 6park.com

他描述了一份即将出炉的文件的产生:“官员E认定它属于F的职权范围,F把一份草案回复交给C,C在咨询D之前对其进行了大幅修改,D请G处理。但此时G正在休假,于是G把文件交给H,H花了一分钟起草,之后由D签名,并返回给C,C修改他的草稿,并将新版本交给A。” 6park.com


Person A rewrites it and goes home as the light fades, “reflecting, with bowed shoulders and a wry smile, that late hours, like grey hairs, are among the penalties of success”. 6park.com

A重写了一遍,在天色渐暗时才回家。他“塌着肩膀苦笑着反思,加班就如同白头发一样,是成功的惩罚之一”。 6park.com


Is working life in most large companies and bureaucracies really so different today, in spite of tools such as email, spreadsheets, Slack and Zoom? And will it really be so different with generative AI in the mix? 6park.com

如今,尽管有电子邮件、电子表格、Slack和Zoom等工具,大多数大企业和官僚机构的工作生活真的有多大改变吗?若再加入生成式人工智能,又真的会有多大改变吗? 6park.com


I’m not sure whether to admire or despair at the human ability to make work for ourselves. But even in the age of AI, I think you would be brave to bet against it. 6park.com


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