新概念三册第51课:Automation 课文+听力

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Lesson51 Automation


One of the greatest advances in modern technology has been the invention of computers. They are already widely used in industry and in universities and the time may come when it will be possible

for ordinary people to use them as well. Computers are capable of doing extremely complicated work in all branches of learning. They can solve the most complex mathematical problems or put

thousands of unrelated facts in order. These machines can be put to varied uses. For instance, they can provide information on the best way to prevent traffic accidents, or they can count the number

of times the word ‘and’ has been used in the Bible. Because they work accurately and at high speeds, they save research workers years of hard work. This whole process by which machines can be used to work for us has been called automation. In the future, automation may enable human beings to enjoy far more leisure than they do today. The coming of automation is bound to have important social consequences.

Some time ago an expert, on automation, Sir Leon Bagrit, pointed out that it was a mistake to believe that these machines could ‘think’. There is no possibility that human beings will be ‘controlled by machines’. Though computers are capable of learning from their mistakes and improving on their performance they need detailed instructions from human beings in order to be able to operate. They can never, as it were, lead independent lives, or ‘rule the world’ by making decisions of their own.

Sir Leon said that in the future, computers would be developed which would be small enough to carry in the pocket. Ordinary people would then be able to use them to obtain valuable information. Computers could be plugged into a national network and be used like radios. For instance, people going on holiday could be informed about weather conditions; car drivers could be given alternative routes when there are traffic jams. It will also be possible to make tiny translating machines. This will enable people who do not share a common language to talk to each other without any difficulty or to read foreign publications. It is impossible to assess the importance of a machine of this sort, for many international misunderstandings are caused simply through our failure to understand each other. Computers will also be used in hospitals. By providing a machine with a patient’s symptoms, a doctor will be able to diagnose the nature of his illness. Similarly, machines could be used to keep a check on a patient’s health record and bring it up to date. Doctors will therefore have immediate access to a great many facts which will help them in their work. Book-keepers and accountants, too, could be relieved of dull clerical work, for

the tedious task of compiling and checking lists of figures could be done entirely by machines. Computers are the most efficient servants man has ever had and there is no limit to the way they can be used to improve our lives.

众所周知,预测未来是非常困难的。举个例子吧,在20世纪70年代中叶又有谁能想得到在20世纪末的时候,家庭用的计算机会像电视机一样普遍?在70年代,计算机已经相当普及了,但只用在大公司,政府部门和大的组织之中,它们被称为主机。计算机主机确实很大,常常占据了装有空调的多间房间,雇用专职的技师,而且得用专门编写的软件才能运行。虽然这种大计算机仍然存在,但它们的许多功能已被体积小但功能齐全的个人电脑——即我们常说的PC机——所代替了。

1975年,美国推出了一台被称为“牛郎星”的原始机型。严格地说起来,它可以被称为第一台“家用电脑”,而且它也指了今后的方向。70年代末,在牛郎星之后又出现了一种被称为“苹果”的机型。80年代初,计算机行业的王牌公司美国国际商用机器公司(IBM)生产出了世界上第一台个人电脑。这种电脑采用了一种被称为磁盘操作系统(DOS)的工作程序,而这种程序是由当时规模不大的微软公司生产的。IBM的个人电脑被大规模地模仿。从那些简陋的初级阶段,我们看到了现在都已普及的、使用简便的家用电脑和多媒体的微机的发展。

想一想这些发展的时间多么短,就更觉得英国人莱昂.巴格瑞特有着非凡的能力。他在60年代就能预言我们今天知道的计算机的一些用途。巴格瑞特根本不接受计算机可以学会自己去“思考”和计算可以“统治世界”这种想法,而这种想法是当时的人们都愿意相信的。巴格瑞特预示有一天计算机可以小到拿在手上,计算机可以使办公室人员和会计免除那些枯燥、重复的劳动。计算机的所有这些功能现在都变得很平常。当然了,莱昂.巴格瑞特根本没有可能预测到国际交互网——就是把计算机连结到电话线路上,以便和世界上任何一个地方的人立即进行联系的一个世界范围的通讯系统——的发展。他也无法预测到我们可以利用国际交互网获取有关任何已知专题的信息,以便在家里的屏幕上阅读,如果愿意的话甚至可以将其打印出来。计算机已经变得体积越来越小,功能越来越多,价格越来越低,这就是莱昂.巴格瑞特的预测非凡的地方。如果他或是像他的什么人今天还活着的话,他大概可以告诉我们下一个50年后会发生什么事情。

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