打开潘多拉魔盒的八大发明 8 Inventors Who Came to Regret Their Creations

2017-08-04 23:15:27

很多人小时候都曾梦想过要当发明家,希望自己的奇思妙想能给人类带来福音。不过,很多现实中的发明不仅没能造福人类,让世界变得更美好,反而违背了发明者的初衷,令发明者深感懊悔。下面就请随本文一起看看都有哪些令发明者后悔的发明。

◎ By Kenny Hemphill 译 / 杨瑞

Just because someone’s invented something, it doesn’t mean that they’re happy with the end result.

J. Robert Oppenheimer1)/ Albert Einstein—The Atomic Bomb

It’s J. Robert Oppenheimer who, as director of the Los Alamos Laboratory2) during World War II, is credited with the creation of the atomic bomb. But Albert Einstein’s work made it possible.

Despite past associations with left wing organizations, Oppenheimer welcomed the opportunity to play a part in the war effort. Later, however, he had mixed feelings about the bomb. “I have no remorse3) about the making of the bomb … As for how we used it, I understand why it happened and appreciate with what nobility those men with whom I’d worked made their decision. But I do not have the feeling that it was done right. The ultimatum4) to Japan [the Potsdam Proclamation5) demanding Japan’s surrender] was full of pious6) platitudes7) .... Our government should have acted with more foresight and clarity in telling the world and Japan what the bomb meant,” he said.

Einstein was less equivocal8). Years later he regretted having signed a letter to President Roosevelt urging him to support the research of physicists into nuclear chain reactions and their use as a weapon, because he believed the Germans were already working on it. “Had I known that the Germans would not succeed in producing an atomic bomb,” he said, “I would have never lifted a finger.”

Mikhail Kalashnikov9)—AK-47

Kalashnikov designed the rifle that bore his name for the Russian army at the end of the Second World War after witnessing terrible casualties in battle and being injured himself. Designed to be a simple automatic rifle that could be made cheaply using the mass production methods available at the time, Kalashnikov, who died in 2013, lived long enough to see his creation be responsible for more deaths than any other assault rifle.

“I keep coming back to the same question. If my rifle claimed people’s lives, can it be that I, an Orthodox believer, am to blame for their deaths, even if they are my enemies?” he wrote in a letter to the head of the Russian Orthodox church in 2010.

Tim Berners Lee10)—The Double Slash

Given what Sir Tim did for all of us when he developed HTML11) and created the World Wide Web, he’s got a fair amount of credit in the bank. If he did have any major regrets about the web, we wouldn’t find it too difficult to forgive him, but his mea culpa12) relates to only two characters, the “//” at the beginning of every web address. “Really, if you think about it, it doesn’t need the //. I could have designed it not to have the //,” he said, according to Business Insider.

Ethan Zuckerman—The Pop-up Advert

If you’ve ever found yourself yelling at your computer screen in frustration as yet another pop-up ad leaps into view, obscuring13) the content behind it, Zuckerman is the person to blame.

Now head of the Center for Civic Media at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Zuckerman wrote an essay for The Atlantic last year entitled “The Internet’s Original Sin,” in which he took full responsibility for the pesky blighters14). Working as an employee of web host15) Tripod at the time, Zuckerman explained that the company, which provided free web pages for consumers, had spent five years looking for a way to generate revenue.

“At the end of the day, the business model that got us funded was advertising. The model that got us acquired was analyzing users’ personal homepages so we could better target ads to them. Along the way, we ended up creating one of the most hated tools in the advertiser’s toolkit: the pop-up ad.”

Dong Nguyen—Flappy Bird

Flappy Bird was a sensation a year ago. What looked like a crude and simple game proved to be hugely addictive thanks to it hitting that sweet spot16) between infuriating17) difficulty and being just playable enough to make you think that next time you’ll do better. Downloads soared and controversy raged until, after 50 million downloads and advertising revenue that was hitting around $45,000 a day, Nguyen had had enough and announced that he was going to withdraw it from app stores. “I cannot take this anymore,” he tweeted. Apparently, the publicity generated by the game had attracted the attention of the world’s press and Nguyen was bombarded with calls, tweets, and emails.

The removal of the game from app stores did little to quell the publicity. Nguyen received death threats, while phones with the game already installed sold on eBay for small fortunes18), and app stores were flooded with copycat19) titles.

Bob Propst—The Office Cubicle

While working as a consultant for Herman Miller20) in the 1960s, Bob Propst introduced America to the open plan office and with it, the office cubicle. It was, he told the New York Times in 1997, designed to “give knowledge workers a more flexible, fluid environment than the rat-maze boxes of offices.”

Companies saw his invention as a way to save money, doing away with individual offices and replacing them with open plans and cubicles. Propst came to lament his invention. “The cubiclizing of people in modern corporations is monolithic insanity,” he said.

Vincent Connare—Comic Sans

“If you love it, you don’t know much about typography21).” An anonymous critic of the font22) Comic Sans didn’t say that, for those are the words of its designer, Vincent Connare, talking to the Wall Street Journal. Connare followed up that comment, however, with this: “If you hate it, you really don’t know much about typography, either, and you should get another hobby.”

Connare’s view, and one shared by lots of others, is that the problem with Comic Sans is not with the font itself, but its overuse and misuse. Designed for a Microsoft application aimed at children to be used as a replacement in speech bubbles for Times New Roman, Connare never imagined it would become so widely used and derided23).

Tom Karen—Raleigh Chopper24)

Before the BMX25) arrived on the scene in the late 1970s, if you wanted a bike that wasn’t of the drop-handlebarred26) racing variety, Raleigh’s Chopper was one of the few options. Loved by millions for its comfortable saddle, laid-back seating position, and those huge Harley Davidson-esque27) handlebars, it was one of Raleigh’s best-selling bikes in the 1970s.

However, its designer, Tom Karen, wasn’t enthusiastic when a comeback28) for the Chopper was mooted29) last year. He told The Telegraph: “The Chopper wasn’t a very good bike. It was terribly heavy so you wouldn’t want to ride it very far. There was some guy who rode it from Land’s End to John O’Groats30)for a good cause and by the end he was cursing it.”

1. J. Robert Oppenheimer:即尤利乌斯·罗伯特·奥本海默(Julius  Robert Oppenheimer, 1904~1967),著名美籍犹太裔物理学家,曼哈顿计划的领导者,原子弹之父。

2. Los Alamos Laboratory:即美国洛斯·阿拉莫斯国家实验室,简称阿拉莫斯实验室,世界上最大的多功能实验室之一,曾云集大批世界顶尖科学家,发明了世界上第一颗原子弹和第一颗氢弹。

3. remorse [rɪˈmɔː(r)s] n. 痛悔,悔恨,自责

4. ultimatum [ˌʌltɪˈmeɪtəm] n. 最后通牒

5. the Potsdam Proclamation:即《中美英三国促令日本投降之波茨坦公告》,简称《波茨坦公告》或《波茨坦宣言》,是二战末期盟国对日本的最后通牒式公告,其中一条内容是:“盟国将予日本以最后打击,直至停止抵抗。”

6. pious [ˈpaɪəs] adj. 虚伪的

7. platitude [ˈplætɪtjuːd] n. 套话

8. equivocal [ɪˈkwɪvək(ə)l] adj. 模棱两可的,态度暧昧的,含糊的

9. Mikhail Kalashnikov:米哈伊尔·卡拉什尼科夫(1919~2013),俄罗斯著名枪械设计师,以设计AK-47突击步枪闻名。

10. Tim Berners Lee:蒂姆·伯纳斯·李(1955~),英国计算机科学家,万维网(World Wide Web)的发明者

11. HTML:超文本标记语言

12. mea culpa:拉丁语,意为“我的过失”;认错

13. obscure [əbˈskjʊə(r)] vt. 遮掩

14. blighter [ˈblaɪtə(r)] n. 讨厌的事物

15. host [həʊst] n. [计]主机

16. sweet spot:(球拍、球棒等上的)最有效击球点

17. infuriating [ɪnˈfjʊəriˌeɪtɪŋ] adj. 使人十分生气的

18. small fortune:〈口〉大笔钱

19. copycat [ˈkɒpiˌkæt] n. 模仿者,仿效者

20. Herman Miller:赫曼米勒,美国最主要的家具与室内设计厂商之一

21. typography [taɪˈpɒɡrəfi] n. 印刷格式,排版式样

22. font [fɒnt] n. 字形

23. deride [dɪˈraɪd] vt. 嘲笑,嘲弄

24. Raleigh Chopper:英国著名自行车公司兰令(Raleigh)于20世纪70年代推出的一款造型独特的经典自行车,有着高高的车把和形似靠背椅的厚实坐垫,后轮比前轮大。

25. BMX:指BMX小轮车,BMX的全称是Bicycle Motocross (自行越野车),这种车结实、轻巧、抗震、耐摔,车胎粗而耐磨,刹车性能高,车把能360度旋转。

26. drop-handlebarred:带有竞赛用自行车下弯形把手的

27. Harley Davidson-esque:哈雷摩托车风格的

28. comeback [ˈkʌmˌbæk] n. 恢复,重现

29. moot [muːt] vt. 提出(问题、观点等)供讨论

30. from Land’s End to John O’Groats:从兰兹角(Land’s End,英格兰最西南端的海岬)到约翰奥格罗茨(John O’Groats,曾被认为是英国最北端),指横跨英国的距离。仅仅因为一个人发明了一件东西,并不意味着其会对最后的结果感到高兴。

J·罗伯特·奥本海默/阿尔伯特·爱因斯坦:原子弹

J·罗伯特·奥本海默是二战时期洛斯·阿拉莫斯实验室的主任,他被认为是原子弹的发明者。但却是阿尔伯特·爱因斯坦的工作让这一发明成为可能。

尽管曾与左翼组织有关联,奥本海默仍很高兴能有机会参与这一与战争有关的工作。但后来,他对原子弹却百感交集。“我不后悔研制原子弹……至于我们是怎么使用它的,我知道事情发生的原因,理解那些曾与我一起共事的人是怀着怎样崇高的理由做出了他们的决定。但我并不认为这么做就是对的。对日本的最后通牒(指要求日本投降的《波茨坦公告》)里头全是虚伪的套话……我们的政府本应更加深谋远虑,更加明确地告诉全世界,告诉日本,原子弹意味着什么。”奥本海默说。

爱因斯坦的态度就没这么模棱两可。他曾在致罗斯福总统的信上署名,敦促罗斯福总统支持物理学家研究核链式反应及其武器用途,因为那时他以为德国人已经在研究了。多年后,他对此表示后悔。“要是早知道德国人造不出原子弹,”他说,“我决不会出手帮忙。”

米哈伊尔·卡拉什尼科夫:AK-47突击步枪

在目睹了战场上的恐怖伤亡、自己也负过伤之后,卡拉什尼科夫在二战末期为俄国军队设计了这一以自己名字命名(编注:AK-47中的K是Kalashnikov的第一个字母)的步枪。卡拉什尼科夫设计的是一种简单、造价低廉的自动步枪,可用当时的大规模生产方式制造。他于2013年去世,在有生之年看到自己的发明所杀的人比其他任何突击自动步枪都要多得多。

“我总是在想一个问题。如果我的步枪夺走了人们的生命,即使他们是我的敌人,那么我作为一名东正教信徒,是不是应该为他们的死而受到责难?”2010年他在一封致俄罗斯东正教大牧首的信中这样写道。蒂姆.伯纳斯.李

蒂姆·伯纳斯·李:双斜杠

鉴于蒂姆爵士研发了HTML技术,创造了万维网,为我们所有人做了这么多贡献,他已经在银行有了相当的信用额度。如果他真的在万维网方面有什么重大悔过,我们也不会觉得很难原谅他。而他的过错只涉及两个字符,即每个网址前头的“//”。据《商业内幕》网站报道,蒂姆爵士曾这样说:“真的,你想想,其实不需要双斜杠。我当初设计的时候原本可以不要的。”

伊桑·佐克曼:弹窗广告

如果你曾发现自己因又一个弹窗广告蹦入视野挡住后面的内容而对着电脑屏幕沮丧地叫喊,那你就该责怪佐克曼。

佐客曼现任麻省理工学院公民媒体中心主任,去年曾为《大西洋月刊》写过一篇题为《互联网的原罪》的文章。在这篇文章中,他表示对这个讨厌的玩意儿负全责。佐克曼解释称,自己当时是网络主机公司“三脚架”的员工。该公司为消费者提供的网页是免费的,为了寻找一种盈利方式已经花了五年的时间。

“最后,我们能够获利的商业模式就是广告。使我们获得融资的这一模式就是分析用户的个人主页,以便我们能更具针对性地向他们投放广告。一路走来,我们最终创造出了广告商工具箱里最令人讨厌的一种工具:弹窗广告。”

阮哈东:飞扬的小鸟

一年前,“飞扬的小鸟”是一款有轰动效应的游戏。事实证明,这款看起来粗糙且简单的游戏非常容易让人上瘾,因为它戳到了游戏玩家的死穴:难度之大让人极为懊恼,上手又恰恰容易得足以让你觉得下次会玩得更好。游戏下载量激增,争议随之肆虐,在下载量达5000万、广告收益接近每天4.5万美金之后,阮哈东受够了,他宣布要将游戏从苹果应用商店下架。“我再也受不了这个了。”他在推特上说。显然,游戏带来的知名度已经吸引了全世界媒体的注意。阮哈东每天都得承受各种电话、推特消息和邮件的狂轰滥炸。

将游戏从苹果应用商店下架对降低其知名度没什么效果。阮哈东收到了死亡威胁,而装有这款游戏的手机则能在eBay网上卖到不菲的价钱,苹果应用商店里到处都是这款游戏的山寨版。

鲍勃·普罗普斯特:办公室隔间

20世纪60年代,鲍勃·普罗普斯特在赫曼米勒公司当顾问,其时他将开放式办公室及随之一起的办公室隔间引入美国。他曾在1997年向《纽约时报》表示,这一设计原本是为了“给知识工人一个相对于老鼠迷宫般的办公室而言更灵活、更富于变化的环境”。

各公司将他的发明视为一种省钱的方法,淘汰掉单个的办公室,用开放式办公和小隔间取而代之。普罗普斯特到后来对他的这一发明感到后悔。他说:“现代企业都将人们放在这样的小隔间里办公,这是一种极端疯狂的行为。”

阮哈东

文森特·康纳尔:Comic Sans字体

“你如果喜爱这一字体,那你就对印刷排版所知不多。”说这话的人并不是Comic Sans字体的什么匿名批评人士,因为这是该字体的设计者文森特·康纳尔对《华尔街日报》讲的原话。但是康纳尔随即又说了这么一句:“你如果讨厌这一字体,那你对印刷排版更是所知不多,而且你应该找一个别的爱好。”

康纳尔的观点也是其他很多人的观点,他们认为Comic Sans字体的问题不在字体本身,而在于该字体被滥用、误用。这本是为一款针对儿童的微软应用而设计的字体,用来代替Times New Roman字体,用于漫画中的话框。但是康纳尔永远想不到,该字体的使用会变得如此广泛并招致嘲弄。

汤姆·卡伦:兰令Chopper自行车

在BMX小轮车于20世纪70年代登场以前,你想要的自行车如果不是那种带下弯形把手的赛车,那兰令的Chopper自行车就是你为数不多的选择之一。无数人喜欢这款自行车舒服的车座、让人感到放松的座椅位置和那种巨大的哈雷摩托风格的车把。这是兰令公司20世纪70年代最畅销的一款自行车。

但是,去年有人提出让这款车回归时,它的设计师汤姆·卡伦却不是那么热心。他向《每日电讯报》表示:“Chopper不是一款特别好的自行车。它很重,所以你不会想骑着它去很远的地方。曾经有人骑着它进行公益活动,从兰兹角骑到约翰奥格罗茨,到最后此人却对这款车咒骂不已。”

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