新编英语教程第二册Unit09

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Unit 9

DIALOGUE I

I Wish I Had a Robot

A: What would you wish for if I let you make a wish?
B: I'd wish I had a robot.
A: Why a robot, of all things?
B: A robot is clever, capable, efficient, and obedient. It'll work with precision. And it'll work round the clock without complaint.
A: Yes, it'll free us from tedious and boring work. But what would you do if you had a robot to work for you?
B: What would I do? I'd make it work wonders.
A: Such as?
B: Lots of things ... farming, manufacturing, construction, transportation, telecommunication, medical treatment ... things you may not even imagine possible.
A: But aren't you creating a world of machines, a world of cold, emotionless, mechanical creatures?
B: I don't think so. Robots can provide us with all kinds of entertainment imaginable, including both artistic and popular forms of entertainment. You may call them "cyber-art" or "cyber-entertainment".
A: I don't like your "cyberculture". It's so general and abstract.
B: Well, for one thing, no human culture could match cyberculture in variety and creativity, you know.
A: It depends on what you mean by variety and creativity. I consider humans the most varied, sophisticated, creative and powerful creatures on earth. Any mechanical culture is simply lifeless, and it's harmful to the human world.
B: Don't get so emotional. We can live in peace with our robots. You know robots would willingly do the kind of work that is physically unbearable to humans. They would protect us from risking harmful hazards, such as radioactive contact.
A: I see your point.
B: A robot can help with housework, too. So if I had a robot, it'd help me to cook meals, do the laundry, clean rooms, entertain guests, mow the lawn, wash my car...
A: Yeah, and do physical exercise for you.
B: You're kidding. I'll do bodybuilding myself in the gym. Do you know what else I'd definitely do myself, even if I had a thousand robots?
A: What?
B: I'd do my study. If not, I'd be done. I fear robots might develop to such a degree that they would threaten our existence. I don't want robots to master the clone technology and duplicate human beings. So you can see I must study and learn enough theories and techniques to operate and control my robot, before it would begin to manipulate me.
A: That's very sensible. Science is a sword with double blades. It benefits, and harms too, if things get out of control.
B: Right, we'll try to take advantage of its benefits and guard against any possible harm.

DIALOGUE II

Dialogue:

A: What's wrong, John, you don't look too good.
B: I'm just feeling a bit down, that's all. Nothing to worry about.
A: What's the trouble? Can I help?
B: Well, thanks, but I don't think anyone can help really. Everything always seems to happen at once, doesn't it?
A: What do you mean?
B: Well, I've just come from the meeting about next year's schedule. I don't know why I bothered going. It wasn't up to much. A complete waste of time!
A: Oh, dear! What else has happened?
B: Last night, Jane was taken into hospital. Some kind of stomach virus, I think. I'm really worried about her. It looks as if the kids are coming down with it too, now, so I'm rather concerned. Jane is frantic with worry about them, so that isn't helping her recovery much.
A: Where are they now?
B: They are staying with my mother, so I'm relieved about that. The trouble is that Colin is on holiday, and so I've got to work overtime to fill in for him. I really don't think I can cope. I'm really fed up with taking over other people's jobs. I've got enough to do myself. In fact, to be quite honest, I'm really disappointed with the job. If this continues much longer, I'll be tempted to hand in my notice!

READING I

Machines with Brains

During the last hundred years, industry has become more and more mechanized. Machines have taken over much of the work that was formerly done by human hands and muscles. But in the past each machine had to be looked after by a man or a woman whose eyes and brain controlled and guided it. Now a great change in our tools has begun to take place. Industry is being automated. The machines themselves are being given eyes and brains, so that people are not needed to attend them. The eyes and brains are supplied by specially-designed electrical circuits.
The operation of automatic machines is based on "feedback". The machine is given a way of "watching" what it does and of "recognizing" when to stop and do something else. A simple example of feedback can be found in the control of a central-heating oil-burner, by a thermostat.
The working part of a thermostat is a bar made of two pieces of different metals, attached back to back. The two metals expand when they get warm, but one expands faster than the other. As a result, when the bar gets warm, it begins to curl. When it cools off, it straightens out again. The bar is set next to a screw, so that it touches the screw when it is straight, but pulls away when it is curled. The bar and the screw are both part of an electrical circuit that controls the switch mechanism of the oil-burner. When the air in the building becomes cool, the bar cools, straightens, and touches the screw. This completes an electric circuit and the oil-burner is switched on. As the air in the building becomes hotter, so does the bar, and it begins to curl. It pulls away from the screw, the current stops flowing and the oil-burner is switched off. A thermostat of this kind can be adjusted to keep the temperature of the house at any required level.
Completely automatic machinery is now used in oil refineries. The oil is "cracked" by heat with the help of a catalyst - in this case, a powder that speeds up the refining process. The oil is broken up into petrol and other products which are then separated from each other. The process goes on non-stop. Oil flows into the machinery at one end and the refined products flow out of the other. The catalyst is used, cleaned and used again. Automatic controls are used not only to regulate the temperature, but the rate of flow of materials and many other things.

READING II

Chips with Everything

"How's the basketball coming on?"
I put down my drink and looked across at the next table. Both the man and the woman were at least 65. I was curious - pensioners, as far as I know, don't play a lot of basketball.
"Oh, I'm not playing much basketball these days," the woman replied. "But I'm getting much better at golf - did a round in two under par last night."
Last night? What's this, I thought - a floodlit golf course? I opened my packet of crisps, thoughtfully. "I'm still pretty hopeless at chess, I'm afraid," the man said. "It beat me on level one this morning."
The penny dropped. These two were obviously the proud owners of video games.
It's very likely that one of the consequences of the development of the silicon chip will be that a lot of people will have a lot more leisure time. It's equally likely that the chip will have a dramatic effect on how we spend that leisure time. It already has. Space invader machines are now a familiar sight in pubs, coffee bars, takeaway restaurants- even police stations. A lot of people play them, and some, particularly schoolchildren, get remarkably high scores. How, one wonders, do they find the time (and money) to become so good?
If you have your own home video set, the possibilities are endless. You can play football, tennis, golf, basketball, tenpin bowling and other active sports without stepping out of your living room. Without even moving.
You can become an expert at chess or backgammon without ever playing another human being. Indeed, human beings aren't needed at all: there is already an annual computer chess championship - computer against computer.
So, what of the future? Will we see gangs of schoolchildren robbing old ladies for the money to feed space invader machines? Will football grounds lie empty as families sit at home round the TV playing video football, or watching the national video football championship? Perhaps it won't go that far. But we won't have to wait long for the Video Olympics, I'm sure of that.
Back in the pub, I stood up, took out 20 pence, and went over to the space invader machine. I may not be much good at beating computers at backgammon, but any space invaders who arrive on Earth anywhere near me had better watch out. That is, as long as they play by the rules, and fly backwards and forwards in six rows of six while I shoot them down.

One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No
machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.
--- Elbert Hubbard
Unit 9 DIALOGUE I I Wish I Had a Robot A: What would you wish for if I let you make a wish? B: I'd wish I had a robot. A: Why a robot, of all things? B: A robot is clever, capable, efficient, and obedient. It'll work with precision. And it'll work round the clock without complaint. A: Yes, it'll free us from tedious and boring work. But what would you do if you had a robot to work for you? B: What would I do? I'd make it work wonders. A: Such as? B: Lots of things ... farming, manufacturing, construction, transportation, telecommunication, medical treatment ... things you may not even imagine possible. A: But aren't you creating a world of machines, a world of cold, emotionless, mechanical creatures? B: I don't think so. Robots can provide us with all kinds of entertainment imaginable, including both artistic and popular forms of entertainment. You may call them "cyber-art" or "cyber-entertainment". A: I don't like your "cyberculture". It's so general and abstract. B: Well, for one thing, no human culture could match cyberculture in variety and creativity, you know. A: It depends on what you mean by variety and creativity. I consider humans the most varied, sophisticated, creative and powerful creatures on earth. Any mechanical culture is simply lifeless, and it's harmful to the human world. B: Don't get so emotional. We can live in peace with our robots. You know robots would willingly do the kind of work that is physically unbearable to humans. They would protect us from risking harmful hazards, such as radioactive contact. A: I see your point. B: A robot can help with housework, too. So if I had a robot, it'd help me to cook meals, do the laundry, clean rooms, entertain guests, mow the lawn, wash my car... A: Yeah, and do physical exercise for you. B: You're kidding. I'll do bodybuilding myself in the gym. Do you know what else I'd definitely do myself, even if I had a thousand robots? A: What? B: I'd do my study. If not, I'd be done. I fear robots might develop to such a degree that they would threaten our existence. I don't want robots to master the clone technology and duplicate human beings. So you can see I must study and learn enough theories and techniques to operate and control my robot, before it would begin to manipulate me. A: That's very sensible. Science is a sword with double blades. It benefits, and harms too, if things get out of control. B: Right, we'll try to take advantage of its benefits and guard against any possible harm. DIALOGUE II Dialogue: A: What's wrong, John, you don't look too good. B: I'm just feeling a bit down, that's all. Nothing to worry about. A: What's the trouble? Can I help? B: Well, thanks, but I don't think anyone can help really. Everything always seems to happen at once, doesn't it? A: What do you mean? B: Well, I've just come from the meeting about next year's schedule. I don't know why I bothered going. It wasn't up to much. A complete waste of time! A: Oh, dear! What else has happened? B: Last night, Jane was taken into hospital. Some kind of stomach virus, I think. I'm really worried about her. It looks as if the kids are coming down with it too, now, so I'm rather concerned. Jane is frantic with worry about them, so that isn't helping her recovery much. A: Where are they now? B: They are staying with my mother, so I'm relieved about that. The trouble is that Colin is on holiday, and so I've got to work overtime to fill in for him. I really don't think I can cope. I'm really fed up with taking over other people's jobs. I've got enough to do myself. In fact, to be quite honest, I'm really disappointed with the job. If this continues much longer, I'll be tempted to hand in my notice! READING I Machines with Brains During the last hundred years, industry has become more and more mechanized. Machines have taken over much of the work that was formerly done by human hands and muscles. But in the past each machine had to be looked after by a man or a woman whose eyes and brain controlled and guided it. Now a great change in our tools has begun to take place. Industry is being automated. The machines themselves are being given eyes and brains, so that people are not needed to attend them. The eyes and brains are supplied by specially-designed electrical circuits. The operation of automatic machines is based on "feedback". The machine is given a way of "watching" what it does and of "recognizing" when to stop and do something else. A simple example of feedback can be found in the control of a central-heating oil-burner, by a thermostat. The working part of a thermostat is a bar made of two pieces of different metals, attached back to back. The two metals expand when they get warm, but one expands faster than the other. As a result, when the bar gets warm, it begins to curl. When it cools off, it straightens out again. The bar is set next to a screw, so that it touches the screw when it is straight, but pulls away when it is curled. The bar and the screw are both part of an electrical circuit that controls the switch mechanism of the oil-burner. When the air in the building becomes cool, the bar cools, straightens, and touches the screw. This completes an electric circuit and the oil-burner is switched on. As the air in the building becomes hotter, so does the bar, and it begins to curl. It pulls away from the screw, the current stops flowing and the oil-burner is switched off. A thermostat of this kind can be adjusted to keep the temperature of the house at any required level. Completely automatic machinery is now used in oil refineries. The oil is "cracked" by heat with the help of a catalyst - in this case, a powder that speeds up the refining process. The oil is broken up into petrol and other products which are then separated from each other. The process goes on non-stop. Oil flows into the machinery at one end and the refined products flow out of the other. The catalyst is used, cleaned and used again. Automatic controls are used not only to regulate the temperature, but the rate of flow of materials and many other things. READING II Chips with Everything "How's the basketball coming on?" I put down my drink and looked across at the next table. Both the man and the woman were at least 65. I was curious - pensioners, as far as I know, don't play a lot of basketball. "Oh, I'm not playing much basketball these days," the woman replied. "But I'm getting much better at golf - did a round in two under par last night." Last night? What's this, I thought - a floodlit golf course? I opened my packet of crisps, thoughtfully. "I'm still pretty hopeless at chess, I'm afraid," the man said. "It beat me on level one this morning." The penny dropped. These two were obviously the proud owners of video games. It's very likely that one of the consequences of the development of the silicon chip will be that a lot of people will have a lot more leisure time. It's equally likely that the chip will have a dramatic effect on how we spend that leisure time. It already has. Space invader machines are now a familiar sight in pubs, coffee bars, takeaway restaurants- even police stations. A lot of people play them, and some, particularly schoolchildren, get remarkably high scores. How, one wonders, do they find the time (and money) to become so good? If you have your own home video set, the possibilities are endless. You can play football, tennis, golf, basketball, tenpin bowling and other active sports without stepping out of your living room. Without even moving. You can become an expert at chess or backgammon without ever playing another human being. Indeed, human beings aren't needed at all: there is already an annual computer chess championship - computer against computer. So, what of the future? Will we see gangs of schoolchildren robbing old ladies for the money to feed space invader machines? Will football grounds lie empty as families sit at home round the TV playing video football, or watching the national video football championship? Perhaps it won't go that far. But we won't have to wait long for the Video Olympics, I'm sure of that. Back in the pub, I stood up, took out 20 pence, and went over to the space invader machine. I may not be much good at beating computers at backgammon, but any space invaders who arrive on Earth anywhere near me had better watch out. That is, as long as they play by the rules, and fly backwards and forwards in six rows of six while I shoot them down. One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man. --- Elbert Hubbard
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