Today, the Internet is in a few cars; tomorrow, broadband (宽带) will be in all of them. Any capability a personal computer has, a car will have, including two–way wireless communications for receiving e–mail, music, and movies. When you’re crossing the lonely place, the kids can watch TV if they’re bored. Every passenger will have a video feed.
Every car will have a self–driving system linked to GPS satellites. Radar sensors (传感器) will track nearby cars. On the freeway, they’ll slow your car when the car ahead of you slows; in town, they’ll help you park without hitting other cars. At rush hour, you’ll get the routes around traffic jams and accidents. The self–driving system in a car makes it possible for the car to drive itself, though some scientists say that’s 30 to 40 years off.
Motor vehicles today represent 20 to 30 percent of the world’s energy use. In the near future, a small gasoline engine and an electric motor will be brought together. Drivers will use electricity in a storage battery for short distances. Longer term, cars might burn hydrogen or use a fuel cell that converts a fuel like hydrogen and combines it with oxygen to create power. Then the waste will be pure water.
You’ll use the voice control: “Make it a bit cooler” or “find me country music”. Lighter, more reliable electronic controls replace mechanical controls. Fiber optics (光纤) replace electrical wires and light bulbs. Seats will be air–conditioned. The car will travel with one side higher than the other when turning, just as an airplane does now.
Cars will avoid some accidents by maintaining safe following distances, and by sensing sleepy or drunk drivers. Air bags will adapt for every passenger according to their size, weight, and position in case accidents happen.
From bankers to factory staff, employees in the west face the bleak prospect (暗淡的前景) of losing their jobs as a global recession (衰退) starts to bite. For colleagues in the East the pain is more likely to come through a pay cut.
Human resource experts say cultural differences explain why Asian firms try harder to keep jobs in difficult times, which will stop unemployment and may help keep Asian economies afloat at a time of slowing exports.
The East Asian attitude may also make it easier for firms to recover quickly from the economic downturn since they will not need to rehire or train new staff, leaving some experts predicting Western shift to Eastern flexibility.
“In the Confucian (儒家的) attitude, the right thing to do is to share the burden. There is the sense of collective responsibility whereas (然而) in the West, it’s more about the individual survival,” said Michael Benotlel, associated professor of organizational behavior at Singapore Management University.
Steven Pang, Asian Regional Director for Aquent, a headhunting firm, said in many East Asian companies there was a responsibility “ to take care of the members of the family and go through the pain together” even if that meant causing losses.
US firms from General Motors to Goldman Sachs plan to lay off workers by the thousand. But at the Asian units of Western multinationals, job cuts will probably be less severe.
Japan’s jobless rate was 4 percent in September, up from 3.8 percent in January, while Hong Kong’s was flat at 3.4 percent. But US unemployment is expected to have jumped to 6.3 percent last month from below 5 percent in January.
Experts say that while there are noticeable differences in labor practices in East and West, the gap will narrow as more firms become more multinational and competition forces firms to adopt the best practices of rivals (对手) from abroad.
(Note: Answer the questions or complete the statements in NO MORE THAN EIGHT WORDS)
81. What caused the different practices of Asian and Western firms facing the global recession?
82. Why is it easier for the East Asian firms to recover quickly from the economic downturn?
83. Firms in the west would lay off workers when facing a bleak prospect because of ______.
84. ______ will make the differences in East and West less noticeable.