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  • Each of you possesses

    在座的每一位都擁有

  • the most powerful, dangerous and subversive trait

    一項物競天擇過程所衍生出的產物中,

  • that natural selection has ever devised.

    最強力,危險,且具有顛覆性的特徵。

  • It's a piece of neural audio technology

    這是一項用來跟他人進行心意溝通

  • for rewiring other people's minds.

    的神經性音頻技術。

  • I'm talking about your language, of course,

    我所說的正是語言,

  • because it allows you to implant a thought from your mind

    透過語言你可以將自己的想法

  • directly into someone else's mind,

    直接灌輸進他人的腦袋裡,

  • and they can attempt to do the same to you,

    而別人也能夠反過來這樣做,

  • without either of you having to perform surgery.

    這個過程並不需要透過手術才能達成。

  • Instead, when you speak,

    換個角度,當你開口說話時,

  • you're actually using a form of telemetry

    你其實是在使用一種

  • not so different

    跟電視遙控器幾乎沒什麼兩樣的

  • from the remote control device for your television.

    遙測技術。

  • It's just that, whereas that device

    差別只在於遙控器

  • relies on pulses of infrared light,

    是透過紅外線脈衝,

  • your language relies on pulses,

    而語言則是透過

  • discrete pulses, of sound.

    聲音的離散脈衝進行傳導。

  • And just as you use the remote control device

    就像你使用遙控器

  • to alter the internal settings of your television

    去改變電視機的內部設定

  • to suit your mood,

    以迎合自己當下的心情一樣,

  • you use your language

    你也透過語言

  • to alter the settings inside someone else's brain

    去改變別人腦袋裡的設定

  • to suit your interests.

    來配合自己的喜好。

  • Languages are genes talking,

    語言其實是基因開口

  • getting things that they want.

    獲得他們所需事物的表現。

  • And just imagine the sense of wonder in a baby

    讓我們設想一下發生在小嬰兒身上的神奇場面,

  • when it first discovers that, merely by uttering a sound,

    當小嬰兒首次發現僅僅是發出聲音

  • it can get objects to move across a room

    就能使物體橫越房間朝他而來,

  • as if by magic,

    甚至餵飽他的肚子,

  • and maybe even into its mouth.

    簡直就像變魔術一樣。

  • Now language's subversive power

    語言的顛覆性力量

  • has been recognized throughout the ages

    也已經在實施言論審查的年代,

  • in censorship, in books you can't read,

    透過不得閱讀的禁書、

  • phrases you can't use

    禁止使用的辭彙

  • and words you can't say.

    和文字而得到印證。

  • In fact, the Tower of Babel story in the Bible

    事實上,聖經中的巴別塔故事

  • is a fable and warning

    正是一則有關語言的力量

  • about the power of language.

    的預言和告誡。

  • According to that story, early humans developed the conceit

    根據故事的描述,遠古的人類藉由使用語言

  • that, by using their language to work together,

    得以彼此溝通,進而起了驕慢之心,

  • they could build a tower

    認為他們能夠共同合作建造一座

  • that would take them all the way to heaven.

    直上天庭的高塔。

  • Now God, angered at this attempt to usurp his power,

    上帝對人類這個形同篡權奪位的行為怒不可遏,

  • destroyed the tower,

    於是摧毀了高塔,

  • and then to ensure

    並且為了確保

  • that it would never be rebuilt,

    人類不再重建通天塔,

  • he scattered the people by giving them different languages --

    上帝透過變亂語言來混淆人類 --

  • confused them by giving them different languages.

    從而使他們分散各地。

  • And this leads to the wonderful irony

    而這也導致了一個奇妙且諷刺的狀況,

  • that our languages exist to prevent us from communicating.

    正是我們的語言阻礙了彼此之間的溝通。

  • Even today,

    即使在今天,

  • we know that there are words we cannot use,

    仍然有我們不得使用的字眼,

  • phrases we cannot say,

    不能使用的辭彙,

  • because if we do so,

    因為一旦這樣做,

  • we might be accosted, jailed,

    我們就可能面臨牢獄之災,

  • or even killed.

    甚至是殺身之禍。

  • And all of this from a puff of air

    而這一切不過都是

  • emanating from our mouths.

    起於口舌吞吐之間的一口氣罷了。

  • Now all this fuss about a single one of our traits

    剛剛這一長串針對語言能力的長篇大論

  • tells us there's something worth explaining.

    正說明了有些值得闡釋的事情。

  • And that is how and why

    也就是語言這個不尋常的特徵

  • did this remarkable trait evolve,

    是基於什麼成因,又是以什麼方式發展的?

  • and why did it evolve

    並且,為何

  • only in our species?

    只在人類的世界衍繹?

  • Now it's a little bit of a surprise

    比較出人意表的是,

  • that to get an answer to that question,

    為了解答這個問題,

  • we have to go to tool use

    我們得先研究一下

  • in the chimpanzees.

    黑猩猩使用工具的情形。

  • Now these chimpanzees are using tools,

    這些黑猩猩正在使用工具,

  • and we take that as a sign of their intelligence.

    這被認為是牠們智力的一種表現。

  • But if they really were intelligent,

    但如果黑猩猩真的很聰明的話,

  • why would they use a stick to extract termites from the ground

    為什麼牠們會用棍子去挖土裡的白蟻,

  • rather than a shovel?

    卻不用鏟子呢?

  • And if they really were intelligent,

    如果牠們真的那麼聰明,

  • why would they crack open nuts with a rock?

    又為什麼要費事自己拿石頭砸開堅果?

  • Why wouldn't they just go to a shop and buy a bag of nuts

    為什麼不直接到商店裡

  • that somebody else had already cracked open for them?

    去買一袋別人已經開好的堅果呢?

  • Why not? I mean, that's what we do.

    為什麼不?我的意思是,我們不就是這樣做的嗎?

  • Now the reason the chimpanzees don't do that

    黑猩猩不會這樣做的理由

  • is that they lack what psychologists and anthropologists call

    是因為牠們缺乏心理學家和人類學家稱之為

  • social learning.

    社會學習的能力。

  • They seem to lack the ability

    牠們似乎缺乏

  • to learn from others

    透過複製或摹仿,

  • by copying or imitating

    甚至於單純觀察他人

  • or simply watching.

    而從中學習的能力。

  • As a result,

    於是乎,

  • they can't improve on others' ideas

    牠們也就無法透過改良他人的創意,

  • or learn from others' mistakes --

    或以他人的錯誤爲借鏡 --

  • benefit from others' wisdom.

    從而汲取他人的智慧。

  • And so they just do the same thing

    因此牠們只能一再而再的

  • over and over and over again.

    重複做相同的事情。

  • In fact, we could go away for a million years and come back

    事實上,如果我們前進到一百萬年後,再倒溯回來,

  • and these chimpanzees would be doing the same thing

    那些黑猩猩肯定還在做著相同的事情,

  • with the same sticks for the termites

    用同樣的棍子挖白蟻,

  • and the same rocks to crack open the nuts.

    用同樣的石塊砸開堅果。

  • Now this may sound arrogant, or even full of hubris.

    這樣說聽起來或者很傲慢,甚至於很狂妄。

  • How do we know this?

    我們怎麼會知道這些呢?

  • Because this is exactly what our ancestors, the Homo erectus, did.

    因為我們的老祖宗,直立人,就是這樣做的。

  • These upright apes

    距今約兩百萬年前,

  • evolved on the African savanna

    這些直立猿人

  • about two million years ago,

    在非洲的熱帶草原上演化,

  • and they made these splendid hand axes

    他們製作了這些能夠完美符合掌型

  • that fit wonderfully into your hands.

    的精巧手斧。

  • But if we look at the fossil record,

    但假使我們查看化石紀錄的話,

  • we see that they made the same hand axe

    就會發現他們是一再而再

  • over and over and over again

    不斷重複的製作同樣的手斧

  • for one million years.

    時間長達一百萬年。

  • You can follow it through the fossil record.

    你可以從追溯化石紀錄發現這一點。

  • Now if we make some guesses about how long Homo erectus lived,

    如果我們對於直立人存在的時間,

  • what their generation time was,

    和他們的世代做一些假設的話,

  • that's about 40,000 generations

    從對經過約莫40,000代的

  • of parents to offspring, and other individuals watching,

    父子傳承,和其他個體的觀察來看,

  • in which that hand axe didn't change.

    手斧的製作全然未有改變。

  • It's not even clear

    我們甚至不太清楚,

  • that our very close genetic relatives, the Neanderthals,

    我們的近親,尼安德塔人,

  • had social learning.

    是否具備了社會學習的能力。

  • Sure enough, their tools were more complicated

    當然,他們的工具和直立人所使用的相較之下

  • than those of Homo erectus,

    是複雜得多了,

  • but they too showed very little change

    只不過,這些住在歐亞大陸的人類,

  • over the 300,000 years or so

    尼安德塔人,

  • that those species, the Neanderthals,

    在超過300,000年的時間裡,

  • lived in Eurasia.

    也只呈現了極少的變化。

  • Okay, so what this tells us

    這跟諺語

  • is that, contrary to the old adage,

    “有樣學樣“告訴我們的道理

  • "monkey see, monkey do,"

    正好完全相反。

  • the surprise really is

    令人驚訝的是

  • that all of the other animals

    其它所有動物

  • really cannot do that -- at least not very much.

    都無法做到有樣學樣 -- 至少程度上極為有限。

  • And even this picture

    即使這張照片

  • has the suspicious taint of being rigged about it --

    都不免有人為操控之嫌 --

  • something from a Barnum & Bailey circus.

    像是出自巴納姆貝利馬戲團之手似的。

  • But by comparison,

    但在相較之下,

  • we can learn.

    人類具備了學習能力。

  • We can learn by watching other people

    我們能透過觀察他人,

  • and copying or imitating

    複製或摹仿他人的行為

  • what they can do.

    而從中學習。

  • We can then choose, from among a range of options,

    然後我們就能在許多不同選項裡

  • the best one.

    挑選出最好的一個。

  • We can benefit from others' ideas.

    我們能夠從別人的想法中受益。

  • We can build on their wisdom.

    以別人的智慧爲基礎加以發展。

  • And as a result, our ideas do accumulate,

    而最終,我們的創意得以累積,

  • and our technology progresses.

    科技也因而進步。

  • And this cumulative cultural adaptation,

    這種人類學家稱之爲

  • as anthropologists call

    累積文化適性的

  • this accumulation of ideas,

    想法累積,

  • is responsible for everything around you

    是與你繁忙的群體日常生活裡

  • in your bustling and teeming everyday lives.

    各種事物都習習相關的。

  • I mean the world has changed out of all proportion

    跟1,000或2,000年前相比

  • to what we would recognize

    這個世界

  • even 1,000 or 2,000 years ago.

    已經發生徹頭徹尾的改變。

  • And all of this because of cumulative cultural adaptation.

    這一切都是拜累積文化適性所賜。

  • The chairs you're sitting in, the lights in this auditorium,

    各位所坐的椅子,會場裡的燈光,

  • my microphone, the iPads and iPods that you carry around with you --

    我手上的麥克風,各位隨身攜帶的 iPad 和 iPod

  • all are a result

    全都是

  • of cumulative cultural adaptation.

    累積文化適性的產物。

  • Now to many commentators,

    對許多評論家而言,

  • cumulative cultural adaptation, or social learning,

    累積文化適性,或者社會學習能力,

  • is job done, end of story.

    都已經算發展完成,劃上句點。

  • Our species can make stuff,

    人類有生產製造的能力,

  • therefore we prospered in a way that no other species has.

    因此我們比其它物種發展得更加繁榮昌盛。

  • In fact, we can even make the "stuff of life" --

    事實上,我們甚至能製造“生活用品“ --

  • as I just said, all the stuff around us.

    也就是我方才所說的,所有我們周遭的事物。

  • But in fact, it turns out

    然而實際上,

  • that some time around 200,000 years ago,

    在距今約莫200,000萬年前,

  • when our species first arose

    當現代人類出現

  • and acquired social learning,

    並取得社會學習能力時,

  • that this was really the beginning of our story,

    那才是人類故事的開端,

  • not the end of our story.

    而非故事的終結。

  • Because our acquisition of social learning

    由於社會學習能力的獲得

  • would create a social and evolutionary dilemma,

    讓社會與進化陷入了進退維谷的兩難,

  • the resolution of which, it's fair to say,

    解決之道,持平而言,

  • would determine not only the future course of our psychology,

    不僅勢將決定人類未來心理層面的課題,

  • but the future course of the entire world.

    更會左右整個世界未來的走向。

  • And most importantly for this,

    最重要的是,

  • it'll tell us why we have language.

    它將會揭示:為什麼人類會有語言。

  • And the reason that dilemma arose

    兩難局面產生的理由

  • is, it turns out, that social learning is visual theft.

    是因為社會學習實際上是一種視覺竊取。

  • If I can learn by watching you,

    如果我可以藉著觀察你來學習,

  • I can steal your best ideas,

    我就能偷取你的創意,

  • and I can benefit from your efforts,

    而且無須像你一樣付出時間和精力

  • without having to put in the time and energy that you did

    投注在改善創意之上,

  • into developing them.

    就能輕易坐享其成。

  • If I can watch which lure you use to catch a fish,

    如果我可以觀察你使用什麼魚餌釣魚,

  • or I can watch how you flake your hand axe

    或如何削薄手斧

  • to make it better,

    讓它更加順手,

  • or if I follow you secretly to your mushroom patch,

    或者,偷偷跟蹤你到你的蘑菇採集點,

  • I can benefit from your knowledge and wisdom and skills,

    我就能夠從你的知識、智慧和技巧受惠,

  • and maybe even catch that fish

    甚至可能比你更早一步

  • before you do.

    抓到魚。

  • Social learning really is visual theft.

    社會學習實際上就是一種視覺竊取。

  • And in any species that acquired it,

    任何具備這種能力的物種,

  • it would behoove you

    最終都會

  • to hide your best ideas,

    隱藏起自己最好的創意,

  • lest somebody steal them from you.

    免得被別人給偷走了。

  • And so some time around 200,000 years ago,

    就在大約200,000年前,

  • our species confronted this crisis.

    人類面臨了這個危機。

  • And we really had only two options

    對於視覺竊取

  • for dealing with the conflicts

    所帶來的衝突狀況

  • that visual theft would bring.

    我們僅有兩個選擇。

  • One of those options

    一個是

  • was that we could have retreated

    將自己退回

  • into small family groups.

    小家庭單位的族群。

  • Because then the benefits of our ideas and knowledge

    如此一來,因為我們的創意和知識所生的利益

  • would flow just to our relatives.

    就可以留在自己的親族之間。

  • Had we chosen this option,

    如果在大約200,000年前

  • sometime around 200,000 years ago,

    我們選擇的是這個做法,

  • we would probably still be living like the Neanderthals were

    很可能在40,000年前人類首度進入歐洲的時候

  • when we first entered Europe 40,000 years ago.

    我們都還維持著跟尼安德塔人一樣的生活方式。

  • And this is because in small groups

    因為在小團體裡

  • there are fewer ideas, there are fewer innovations.

    能產生的發想有限,創新也有限。

  • And small groups are more prone to accidents and bad luck.

    但卻更易於遭遇事故和厄運。

  • So if we'd chosen that path,

    因此如果我們當初選擇的是這條路,

  • our evolutionary path would have led into the forest --

    我們的進化之道就會通向密林 --

  • and been a short one indeed.

    並且十分短命。

  • The other option we could choose

    另一個選擇則是

  • was to develop the systems of communication

    發展出得以相互交流創意

  • that would allow us to share ideas

    和彼此相互合作的

  • and to cooperate amongst others.

    溝通系統。

  • Choosing this option would mean

    選擇這個方式意味著

  • that a vastly greater fund of accumulated knowledge and wisdom

    豐厚的累積知識和智慧資產

  • would become available to any one individual

    將對所有人開放。

  • than would ever arise from within an individual family

    而不僅是拘限於個別家族之間的流傳,

  • or an individual person on their own.

    或一己的私藏。

  • Well, we chose the second option,

    我們當初選擇了第二個方法,

  • and language is the result.

    語言即是此一抉擇下的產物。

  • Language evolved to solve the crisis

    語言的進化解決了

  • of visual theft.

    視覺竊取所產生的危機。

  • Language is a piece of social technology

    語言是一種用來

  • for enhancing the benefits of cooperation --

    加強合作的利益的社會科技 --

  • for reaching agreements, for striking deals

    用來達成協議,完成交易,

  • and for coordinating our activities.

    和協調各種活動的進行。

  • And you can see that, in a developing society

    各位可以想見,對一個尚位於發展階段,

  • that was beginning to acquire language,

    剛開始學習語言的國家而言,

  • not having language

    缺乏對於語言的掌握

  • would be a like a bird without wings.

    處境就如同沒有翅膀的鳥一樣。

  • Just as wings open up this sphere of air

    就像鳥類,

  • for birds to exploit,

    展開翅膀劃破空氣翱翔一般。

  • language opened up the sphere of cooperation

    人類也藉由語言

  • for humans to exploit.

    開啟彼此合作之門。

  • And we take this utterly for granted,

    而我們將此視為理所當然,

  • because we're a species that is so at home with language,

    因為我們對於語言的掌握已臻嫻熟。

  • but you have to realize

    但我們應當理解到

  • that even the simplest acts of exchange that we engage in

    即使是我們最簡單的交換行為

  • are utterly dependent upon language.

    也完全是倚靠語言來完成的。

  • And to see why, consider two scenarios

    請想像兩個

  • from early in our evolution.

    進化早期的場景。

  • Let's imagine that you are really good