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If you have 1 trillion dollars, how are you going to spend it? Like a local tyrant to buy a private plane, live in a villa, or enjoy a gold plated toilet? Or are you going to burn with a bunch of bills?

假如你拥有1万亿美金你打算怎么花?像土豪一样购买私人飞机、住着别墅,还是享用镀了金的马桶?还是拿着一大把钞票烧着玩?

Some money is too much. They can't imagine: one trillion dollars is only equivalent to Mexico's gross domestic product. So, in a way, if you don't spend anything, it will take more than 16,000 years to accumulate a billion dollars on a median American household income of less than $60,000. Earning one trillion will take 16 million years.

一些钱太多了,他们不敢想象:一万亿美元仅相当于墨西哥国内生产总值。因此,从某种角度来看:假设你什么都没花掉,那么要在美国家庭收入中位数不到6万美元的基础上积累10亿美元需要超过16000年。赚一万亿会花1600万年的时间。

Apple recently became the first US-listed company with a market value of $1 trillion. So how long will it be before an individual passes the same milestone, and what will they have to do to get so filthy rich?

苹果公司最近成为了首个市值超过1万亿美元的美国上市公司。而个人要想拥有1万亿得要多久,如何才能如此腰缠万贯?

Been there, done that: maybe we’ve already had the first trillionaire

首个万亿富豪可能已经诞生

Hyperinflation produced plenty of trillionaires in Zimbabwe 10 years ago, but in a currency so worthless that a Z$100 billion note would cover just one trip on a public bus it’s probably fair to say they don’t count.

十年前津巴布韦的恶性通货膨胀造就了一批万亿富豪,但是津巴布韦元实在太不值钱,1千亿面值的纸币只够搭一程公车,所以津巴布韦的万亿富豪应该不算数。

There’s a better case, however, for ancient kings, financiers and kleptocrats. Estimating their wealth is very tricky, but a few consistently make the list. Malian king Mansa Musa possessed so much gold that his wealth was simply beyond comprehension.

也有更适合的例子,譬如国王、金融家,还有窃贼。估算他们的身家不太容易,但也有几位一直排在万亿富豪之列。14世纪马里帝国的国王穆萨(Mansa Musa)黄金多到无法想象。

Other rulers, both in the middle ages and in antiquity had enormous wealth, but it’s tough to gauge exactly how much. Stanford historian Ian Morris estimated Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar’s fortune at about $4.6 trillion, although he admits these estimates need to be taken with a fistful of salt.

其他中世纪和古代统治者们也是家财万贯,但很难算清到底有多少。美国斯坦福大学的历史学家莫里斯(Ian Morris)估计,罗马凯撒大帝(Augustus Caesar)的财富大概有4万6千亿美元,不过他也承认里面可能有水分。

“Today even people like you and me can watch TV, use the Internet or wander into Boots or Walgreens and buy drugs like Viagra or Prozac that Roman emperors would have given their hind teeth for. In a way, we're richer than Augustus, and yet in other ways he was rich on a scale that makes Donald Trump look like he's on minimum wage,” he says.

莫里斯说:'如今,你我这样的普通人也能看电视、上网、去博姿公司(Boots)或是沃尔格林药房(Walgreens)买上一盒伟哥(壮阳药)或者百忧解(抗抑郁药),这可都是罗马帝王们愿意用全部身家来交换的。某种程度而言,我们比凯撒大帝还富有,但从另一角度看,跟凯撒大帝相比,美国总统特朗普(Donald Trump)领的都是最低工资。'

Putting people out of work with machines

机器取代人类工作

Many futurists think the first trillionaire will make their fortune from innovations that make today’s technology seem a little ancient. Artificial intelligence (AI) has progressed in leaps and bounds in recent years, and its potential applications could touch almost every corner of our lives. Businesses are investing heavily, and at least one billionaire think it’s a solid bet.

许多未来主义者认为,首个万亿富豪的财富来自于创新科技,那些把今天的科技比下去的产品。人工智能(AI)近几年发展迅猛,潜在的应用领域基本涵盖了我们生活的方方面面。商贸行业在AI上大把投钱,至少有位身家十亿的富豪相信投资AI稳赚不输。

'I am telling you, the world's first trillionaires are going to come from somebody who masters AI and all its derivatives and applies it in ways we never thought of,' businessman and Shark Tank host Mark Cuban told the SXSW Conference last year.

库班(Mark Cuban)是名商人,也是美国发明类真人秀节目《创智赢家》(Shark Tank)的主持人。他在去年的西南偏南大会(SXSW Conference,每年在美国举行的大型音乐节)上表示:'全球首批万亿富豪一定是掌握了AI及其衍生品的人,而且他们使用AI的方式出乎我们意料。'

But how exactly will AI create tycoons? There are many possibilities. “Machine learning is already being used for drug discovery and design. Imagine a new AI-engineered drug that can significantly prolong human lifespan or cure Alzheimer's... that would surely result in massive wealth,” says futurist Martin Ford, the author of Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future.

但AI如何造就大亨?可能性有很多。马丁·福特(Martin Ford)是个未来主义者,著有《机器人崛起:科技与未来失业的威胁》(Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future)。他说:'机器学习已经用于药品的研究和设计,试想有一种由AI开发的新药能大大延长人类寿命,或是能治愈老年痴呆症,那肯定能赚到金银满屋。'

The danger, though, is that there’s a trillion-dollar fortune in killing off jobs. Why hire a human if a machine can do the same work without demanding pay, holidays or health insurance? A smaller workforce doing the same work could mean that even more money floats to the top. The consultancy McKinsey estimates that AI could eliminate as many as 800 million jobs.

但问题是,这也会取代工作岗位。如果机器能把人的工作完成,还不要工资、假期、健康保险,那为什么还要雇人来做?做相同的工作,雇的人越少则流入老板口袋的钱就越多。咨询公司麦肯锡(McKinsey)预测,AI能取代8亿个工作岗位。

These fears and challenges have certain parallels in the 19th Century. Like today’s era of digital transformation, the industrial revolution fuelled a massive shift in the economy and made some people enormously rich. Cornelius Vanderbilt made a fortune from railway and shipping, while John D Rockefeller made his fortune in oil and was possibly America's first billionaire (although this is disputed) while car maker Henry Ford was the second. Adjusting for inflation, all were arguably wealthier than Amazon founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos is today (but again, comparisons need to be treated with caution).

类似的担忧以及挑战在19世纪时也都出现过。当时的工业革命带来了经济的巨大变革,让一部分人富到流油,跟当今的数字化转型如出一辙。范德比尔特(Cornelius Vanderbilt)从铁路和航运大捞一笔,而洛克菲勒(John D Rockefeller)靠的是石油,他还很可能是美国第一位十亿富豪(虽然有争议),第二位则是制造汽车的亨利·福特(Henry Ford)。放到今天,根据通货膨胀调整之后,这三个人的财富也都超过了亚马逊公司的创始人兼CEO贝索斯(Jeff Bezos)(但这种比较得非常小心)。

Exactly how this century’s potentially wrenching economic transformation will play out is up for debate. Some believe that it will simply shift the focus of work (much like the industrial revolution before it) and we’ll simply end up doing different types of jobs. Others feel the shift might be more fundamental, and it might leave some workers permanently jobless as AI improves and takes over an increasing number of roles. And it’s difficult to predict how quickly things will change.

本世纪的经济转型究竟会如何发生还有待讨论,有些人认为,转型只会改变我们的工作重心,工作类型不同而已——类似于之前的工业革命。也有人相信影响会更加深远,随着AI技术的提升,机器担负的角色越来越多,有些工人可能会就此失业。转型的速度也很难预测。

“That is definitely a strong possibility if the AI is leveraged for job automation (something that seems inevitable),” says Martin Ford. “On the other hand, if the wealth generation results primarily from leveraging AI in financial markets or in biotechnology, then the impact on labour markets might be less immediate – but probably still inevitable once the technology scales across other industries.”

马丁·福特说:'如果将AI用于工作自动化(似乎不可避免),工人失业的可能性将相当之高。如果主要将AI用于金融市场或者生物科技领域创造财富,就不会对劳动力市场产生立竿见影的效果。但AI技术一旦涉及到其他行业,对劳动力市场的影响应该少不了。'

Cryptocurrency

加密货币

The crypto world is full of bloviating evangelists and pump-and-dump scammers. But it has made a diverse group of people rich in a very short time. Forbes compiled a list in early February, which suggested there were at least a few potential billionaires, including the Winklevoss twins and the founder of Ripple (XRP), Chris Larsen – who, at the peak of the crypto craze, briefly became one of the world’s richest men, according to the New York Times and other US media.

加密货币领域多是夸夸其谈的大忽悠和将股票恶性拉高再卖出的大骗子,但也让很多人一夜暴富。今年二月初,福布斯(Forbes)统计了一份身家十亿的富豪名单,在《纽约时报》和其他美国媒体眼中,这几个人都是趁着加密货币的势头,一跃成为全球富豪榜的暴发户,譬如著名的加密货币投资人文克莱沃斯(Winklevoss)双胞胎兄弟,以及网络货币瑞波币(Ripple)的创始人拉森(Chris Larsen)。

“There’s a lot of creative people figuring out how to monetise this, in lots of ways we never anticipated in the past,” says Thomas Frey, a futurist who has written extensively about the industries that will create the first trillionaire. “There’s so much activity in that space right now. And there’s so many people involved, that there’s potential for it to scale quickly.”

未来主义者弗雷(Thomas Frey)就加密货币这个将诞生首个万亿富豪的行业写了大量文章。他认为:'很多有想法的人正在设法从这些行业中赚钱,很多方法过去绝对想不到。加密货币现在非常活跃,参与者很多,很可能会急速发展。'

Bitcoin made the most headlines, with growth of 1,318% during 2017, but it wasn't even near the top of the list when it comes to rapid growth. Other well-known cryptocurrencies like Litecoin and Ethereum grew faster, while Ripple (XRP) grew 36,018% in the same period meaning $100 invested in Ripple in January 2017 would have grown to over $36,000 by the start of 2018. With such strong returns, it's easy to see how investors could get rich very quickly if they cashed out.

比特币(Bitcoin)经常登上头版头条,去年的增长率达1318%,但增长速度还远远不是第一位。其他大家所熟知的加密货币增长更快,譬如莱特币(Litecoin)和以太坊(Ethereum),瑞波币的增长更是飚到了36018%。这么夸张的回报,投资者能一夜暴富也就不难想象了。

Any victory could be fleeting though. Cryptocurrencies have been shown to be exceptionally volatile. When Forbes created its list earlier this year, it was out of date before it went to print, with many of the wealthiest (like the Winklevosses) slipping below the billion-dollar line before publication.

但任何成功都可能转瞬即逝。加密货币的波动异常剧烈,今年年初,福布斯的榜单还没出版排名就变了。排名前几位里,有许多人的身家跌到了十亿美元以下(譬如文克莱沃斯兄弟)。

So, the first trillionaire could be a rich and reckless tycoon making a huge casino-style bet on a cryptocurrency and getting lucky. But Thomas Frey says anyone who reaches the twelve-figures threshold this way might only stay in the stratosphere for a day or two before gravity teaches them a lesson.

所以,首个万亿富豪可能只是赌博似的把大量本金押在了加密货币上,恰巧走运,误打误撞成了大富豪。但弗雷说,靠运气赚到上百万的人也就能飘飘然个一两天,重力作用很快就能让他们认清现实。

Moon rock tycoons

月岩大亨

The world has limited natural resources such as oil or diamonds but our appetite for them seems to be ever-increasing. That’s particularly true for some metals that are found in electronic components. And if we can’t find what we need on earth, maybe someone could make a fortune finding them elsewhere.

地球上的自然资源有限,但人类对石油钻石一类的渴求却与日俱增,对用在电子元件内的金属更是渴望。如果在地球上找不到,兴许能在其他地方找到,也可以大赚一笔。

According to website Asterank, which estimates the mineral and profit potential of known asteroids, there are many fortunes to be won out in space. The most valuable asteroids could hide deposits worth more than $100 trillion.

Asterank网站对已知小行星上的矿物贮量以及潜在收益进行了估算,认为外太空相当有利可图。潜在收益最高的小行星能达到100万亿美元。

“The space resources market is an untapped market and it will certainly be a lucrative one, so a large opportunity exists, especially for early investors,' according to Takeshi Hakamada, the founder and CEO of ispace, a company that hopes to settle on the moon and eventually profit from it too.

太空创业公司ispace打算进军月球,从中获利,其创始人兼CEO袴田(Takeshi Hakamada)表示:'太空资源市场还未开发,收益可观,机会很多,对早期投资者尤其如此。'

The problem, of course, is that it’s extremely expensive to recover these riches. Plenty of companies have gone broke digging for gold here on earth, so the financial risk of trying the same in space is clear. But Hakamada says there’s a longer game. Resource extraction is just the first step in creating an entire economy in space.

问题是,要想从中获利成本也很高。很多公司在地球上挖金子都挖到破产,开发太空资源的财务风险显而易见。在袴田看来这是个长线工程,挖掘资源不过是创造整个太空经济的第一步。

'Resource utilisation will just be the starting point to open up other market opportunities in space. Once resources are identified – enabling people to live and work on the Moon – industries will be able to consider the Moon as an extension of their business on Earth,” he says.

'资源利用不过是开启太空各个市场的起点。一旦知道有哪些资源能让人类在月球上工作生活,那对矿产公司而言,开采月球不过就是扩大了地球以外的业务范围。

The fountain of youth

青春之泉

Immortality has long been a human dream, and it has been the subject of any number of experiments, both mainstream and eccentric. A few people have had themselves cryogenically frozen, in case medical science catches up with whatever killed them.

长生不老一直是人类的梦想,也是各种主流非主流实验的研究课题。已经有人利用人体冷冻技术将自己低温保存起来,希望将来医学发展,能治愈夺去他们性命的疾病。

Big players are already looking into other solutions. Google has funded a billion-dollar research group called Calico, which studies the ageing process and focuses on “moonshot” life-extending solutions.

大庄家们已经在寻找其他办法。谷歌(Google)耗资十亿美元成立了名为印花布(Calico)的研究组,研究衰老过程,主要是用大胆创新的办法来延长人类寿命。

The demand is fairly obvious, and Thomas Frey says it’s easy to see how a cost-effective solution that offers immortality would scale-up in a very short time. Frey points out that if everyone on earth spent $10 a day on a pill to keep them alive, and continuing to take the pill was effectively a life-or-death decision, whoever made the pill would become astonishingly rich.

需求显而易见,弗雷也说,如果能有经济有效的办法来实现长生不老,那需求量肯定迅速爆棚。如果地球上每人每天花10美元买一颗能让自己活下去的药,那吃不吃药就成了生死攸关的抉择,制药一方可得赚多少啊。

But the science is so new, and so untested that it’s difficult to figure out which techniques show promise and which ones don’t.

但这项科学还很新,实验不足,很难说哪些科技有前途哪些没有。

“It’s really hard to sort through all the junk out there, so to speak,” he says.

'好比从一堆乱麻中整理头绪,相当困难。'弗雷说。

We’ve met the first trillionaire, but they’re not there yet

我们已经见过了首位万亿富豪,只是他还有很长的路要走。

Let’s just say it: there’s a good chance the first trillionaire will be Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. He has a fortune of more than $150bn, which means he has a $50bn head start over the next richest man, Bill Gates, who’s too busy giving away his money to catch up.

可以这么说,首位万亿富豪很可能是亚马逊公司的创始人贝索斯。他现在身家超过1500亿美元,比排在第二的盖茨(Bill Gates)多了500亿。盖茨到处捐款,资产是不会超过贝索斯了。

The business world is always fickle, and a bad week on the stock exchange could wipe out a lot of that money overnight. But at the moment, Amazon seems to be getting stronger. Entire sectors now tremble when Amazon announces it might move in on their turf. And its profits, for a long time far more modest than its colossal revenues, are improving.

商场无情,股市低迷一周就能让很多资金一夜蒸发。但亚马逊似乎越做越强,不管宣布进军哪里,都能让整个行业胆战心惊。长期以来,亚马逊的盈利远远低于其巨额收入,但现在也在改善。

Also, nothing is as effective at creating wealth as wealth itself. And one estimate suggests that Jeff Bezos would have to spend $28 million a day in order to avoid accumulating more wealth. Research by Oxfam has found that the wealth held by the super-rich since 2009 has increased by an average of 11% per year. If billionaires continue to secure these returns, we could see the world’s first trillionaire in 25 years. Not everyone buys this estimate, but the world’s wealthiest person would have to be a contender regardless.

创造财富最有效的办法就是财富本身。有人计算,贝索斯一天能赚到2800万美元。乐施会(Oxfam)研究发现,自2009年起,最富裕阶层手中的财富年增长率达到11%。如果十亿富豪以这个速度发展,25年后就会诞生世界上第一个万亿富豪。不是人人都认可这个算法,但全球首富贝索斯肯定很有竞争力。

Should we have trillionaires?

该不该有万亿富豪出现?

The argument in favour of massive wealth is that it’s a reward for innovators who fundamentally change the way we live, and usually for the better. A trillion-dollar fortune might come on the back of a large, efficient company that creates jobs and provides essential products and services. But will it really happen that way?

支持者认为,巨额财富是对创新者的奖励,这些创新者给人类的生活方式带来了重大变革,而且通常是积极的。身家万亿美元的人可能拥有一间运作高效的大公司,而大公司能提供工作岗位、重要产品和服务。但事实果真如此吗?

“Sure, wealth rewards to a certain extent talent and hard work. But to a large extent it doesn’t,” says Ana Caistor Arendar, the head of Oxfam’s inequality campaign.

在乐施会负责社会不公运动的安连达(Ana CaistorArendar)表示:'某种程度而言,财富当然是对才华和努力的奖励,但很多情况下并非如此。'

Not every fortune is won off the back of innovation. Some of the rich inherit their wealth while others at least inherit a head-start. They have the means to avoid taxes more easily than the rest of us. Their companies sometimes pay low wages to people in developing countries. In short, she argues a trillion-dollar fortune could come at the expense of everyone else.

并非所有财富都来自于创新。有些富人靠的是继承资产,很多至少获得了先天优势。他们更容易避税,可能给发展中国家的劳动力工资较低。总而言之,安连达认为,万亿财富是建立在牺牲他人的基础之上。

But it’s tricky to rein in massive wealth. In the middle of last century, the top marginal tax bracket reached 90% in the US, but in practice very few paid it because it focused on income rather than investments. And the rich hire good accountants who help them clutch onto as much of their money as they legally can.

如何监管这么多钱也很棘手。20世纪中期,美国的最高边际税率达到90%,但实际上,很少有人交这部分税,因为税费是以收入来计,跟拿了多少钱去投资没关系。有钱人会聘请厉害的会计以合法方式尽可能避税。

Few governments have shown any real recent interest in revisiting these policies. Then again, the tremendous disparities of wealth of the gilded age spurred governments into action. Maybe governments will feel compelled to act as the super-rich claim an ever-larger share of the pie.

最近也没几个政府真正打算审核税务政策,而镀金时代那种巨大的财富差异曾促使政府采取行动。也许当富豪阶层占据的财富越来越多时,政府会被迫出手。

But if they don’t, then the first trillionaire might only be a matter of time.

但如果政府不加干预,首个万亿富豪的诞生也许只是个时间问题。







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