– C’était une jeune femme d’une énergie et d’une intelligence exceptionnelles, votre grand-mère. Elle lisait, lisait, lisait,… Des journaux, des romans, tout ce que lui apportait Alphonse. Le soir, des heures durant, il l’aidait à faire des exercices de prononciation. Lorsque Andreï est né, elle se débrouillait en français. Un an plus tard, mon père me disait qu’il fallait tendre l’oreille pour percevoir une pointe d’accent.

Il s’arrêta :

– Je dois vous raconter ces détails. Ils sont essentiels pour la suite.

– Je vous en prie, fit Mathias.

– Deux mois après l’arrivée d’Irina, Alphonse l’épousait. C’était un homme de devoir qui a élevé votre père avec une tendresse de chaque instant.

Mathias sentit son regard se brouiller.

– Voilà, poursuivit Federenko. Je m’étais promis que vous sauriez un jour ce qu’a été la vie de votre famille. C’est la vôtre, mais aussi celle de votre peuple.

– Je vous remercie, fit Mathias.

La Confrérie des moines volants, Metin Arditi

Editions Grasset & Fasquelle, 2013


‘I said my remarks were not intended personally. If feelings have been hurt, I shall be most happy to explain to the young lady – ’
‘Mr Walker,’ Stoner said. ‘You know that isn’t the point.’

‘Has the young lady been complaining to you?’ Walker asked. His fingers were trembling as he put his glasses back on. With them on, his face managed a frown of anger. ‘Really, sir, the complaints of students whose feeling have been hurt should not – ’

‘Mr. Walker!’ Stoner heard his voice go a little out of control. He took a deep breath. ‘This has nothing to do with the young lady, or with myself, or with anything except your performance. And I still await any explanation you have to offer.’

‘Then I am afraid I don’t understand at all, sir. Unless…’
‘Unless what, Mr Walker?’
‘Unless it is a simple matter of disagreement,’ Walker said. ‘I realize that my ideas do not coincide with yours, but I have always thought that disagreement was healthy. I assumed that you were big enough to – ’
‘I will not allow you to evade the issue’ Stoner said. His voice was cold and level. ‘Now. What was the seminar topic assigned to you?’

Stoner, John Williams Vintage 2003


The modern digital revolution — with its hallmarks of computer power, connectivity and data ubiquity — has brought iPhones and the internet, not crowded tenements and cholera. But (…) it is disrupting and dividing the world of work on a scale not seen for more than a century. Vast wealth is being created without many workers; and for all but an elite few, work no longer guarantees a rising income.

So far, the upheaval has been felt most by low- and mid-skilled workers in rich countries. The incomes of the highly educated — those with the skills to complement computers — have soared, while pay for others lower down the skill ladder has been squeezed. In half of all OECD countries real median wages have stagnated since 2000. Countries where employment is growing at a decent clip, such as Germany or Britain, are among those where wages have been squeezed most.

In the coming years the disruption will be felt by more people in more places, for three reasons. First, the rise of machine intelligence means more workers will see their jobs threatened. The effects will be felt further up the skill ladder, as auditors, radiologists and researchers of all sorts begin competing with machines. Technology will enable some doctors or professors to be much more productive, leaving others redundant.

Second, wealth creation in the digital era has so far generated little employment. Entrepreneurs can turn their ideas into firms with huge valuations and hardly any staff. Oculus VR, a maker of virtual-reality headsets with 75 employees, was bought by Facebook earlier this year for $2 billion. With fewer than 50,000 workers each, the giants of the modern tech economy such as Google and Facebook are a small fraction of the size of the 20th century’s industrial behemoths.

Third, these shifts are now evident in emerging economies. Foxconn, long the symbol of China’s manufacturing economy, at one point employed 1.5m workers to assemble electronics for Western markets. Now, as the costs of labour rise and those of automated manufacturing fall, Foxconn is swapping workers for robots. China’s future is more Alibaba than assembly line: the e-commerce company that recently made a spectacular debut on the New York Stock Exchange employs only 20,000 people. […]

None of this means that the digital revolution is bad for humanity. Far from it. This newspaper believes firmly that technology is, by and large, an engine of progress, IT has transformed the lives of billions for the better, often in ways that standard income measures do not capture. Communication, knowledge and entertainment have become all but free. Few workers would want to go back to a world without the internet, the smartphone or Facebook, even for a pay increase. […]

Nonetheless, the growing wedge between a skilled elite and ordinary workers is worrying. Angry voters whose wages are stagnant will seek scapegoats: witness the rise of xenophobia and protectionism in the rich world. In poor countries dashed expectations and armies of underemployed people are a recipe for extremism and unrest. Governments across the globe therefore have a huge interest in helping remove the obstacles that keep workers from wealth.

The answer is not regulation or a larger state. High minimum wages will simply accelerate the replacement of workers by machines. Punitive tax rates will deter entrepreneurship and scare off the skilled on whom prosperity in the digital era depends. The best thing governments can do is to raise the productivity and employability of less-skilled workers. […]

Yet although governments can mitigate the problem, they cannot solve it. As technology progresses and disrupts more jobs, more workers will be employable only at lower wages. The modest earnings of the generation that technology leaves behind will need to be topped up with tax credits or wage subsidies. That need not mean imposing higher tax rates on the affluent, but it does mean closing the loopholes and cutting the giveaways from which they benefit.

In the 19th century, it took the best part of 100 years for governments to make the investment in education that enabled workers to benefit from the industrial revolution. The digital revolution demands a similarly bold, but swifter, response.

The Economist online, October 4, 2014

Répondez en ANGLAIS aux questions suivantes : (200 mots environ pour chaque réponse)

1. According to the text, how is the modern digital revolution “disrupting and dividing the world of work on a scale not seen for more than a century”? Answer the question in your own words.

2. Do you think developments in technology necessarily lead to progress? Illustrate your answer with your own specific examples.