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Should there be a Robot Tax to Help Pay for Jobs for Humans

no, not robots.txt

     
5:41 pm on Feb 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Bill Gates has suggested that there should be a tax on robots to help pay for redeployment of jobs for humans.
“You ought to be willing to raise the tax level and even slow down the speed” of automation, Gates argues. That’s because the technology and business cases for replacing humans in a wide range of jobs are arriving simultaneously, and it’s important to be able to manage that displacement. “You cross the threshold of job replacement of certain activities all sort of at once,” Gates says, citing warehouse work and driving as some of the job categories that in the next 20 years will have robots doing them. Should there be a Robot Tax to Help Pay for Jobs for Humans [qz.com]

It could also be used to help pay for several aspects of the development of humans. For example, to help pay for retirement care and welfare.
The EU have rejected the proposals put forward a while back, and rejected earlier this month. [reuters.com...]

Robots used in manufacturing have long been know, such as car production, or electronics manufacturing.
Not everyone can be redeployed with a new skill set, and if they could, what jobs would there be!
One of the biggest opportunities, imho, is for the robot revolution to help humans in care situations, whether that be in direct interaction, or for more repetitive tasks being offloaded to robotics, allowing humans to spend more time in a true care situation. The tax idea could also help fund jobs in care, although, it would need working through to ensure the benefits are to humans, and not just to corporate business.
2:09 pm on Feb 23, 2017 (gmt 0)

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There are better solutions: e.g. a universal basic income, investment in education, and limiting working hours.

This sort of tax has lots of problems of definition and application, and would need to be global to work.

In the long run we are going to have to entirely change our economic system from the one that was excellent for labour intensive manufacturing to one that works better in the new economy.
2:12 pm on Feb 23, 2017 (gmt 0)

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If we follow this logic, we should also tax the computers that have already replaced people doing many jobs: for example, stenographers, typists, bank clerks (there used to be legions of them doing things like processing cheques), and postmen. I think a few thousand dollars on each copy of MS Office and proportionately on each Exchange install would be a good start.....
3:37 pm on Feb 23, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Retrospectively charging isn't going to work.
I suspect that we're talking about an even greater impact by robots than computers which require an operator. Robotics and AI may be a bigger revolution than the adoption of computers.

The point of raising taxes was one suggestions open for debate.
8:03 pm on Feb 23, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Should there have been a tax on cars to help pay for redeployment of stagecoach/buggie workers? Or any other previous profession obsoleted by emerging technologies? I say no.

Automation has been around and displacing workers for decades. Individuals need to be responsible for their own education/re-training/redeployment.
6:39 am on Feb 24, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I agree, taxing inovation is categorically wrong.

Not sure about other countries, but in the US displaced/replaced workers have resources to help them deal with changing times... but in many cases they are older & difficult to retrain.

But I can't help thinking about the scenario...

An out-of-work truck driver goes to the unemployment office to collect his check. The clerk says "can I see your robots.txt" The man hands it over & the clerk says "Ah ha... you forgot to disallow DriverlessTruckBot"
4:53 pm on Feb 24, 2017 (gmt 0)

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It is economics. Hardware is easier to manage than wetware. Always has been, always will be.

Tax it if you like, and see those taxes (potential) relocate. Nature of the beast when peter tries to rob paul. :)
5:07 pm on Feb 24, 2017 (gmt 0)

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So if you tax companies using robots on the one hand, would you have to pay them on the other?

How Robots Helped Create 100,000 Jobs at Amazon [singularityhub.com]
5:46 pm on Feb 24, 2017 (gmt 0)

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>> no, not robots.txt <<

:-D
5:58 pm on Feb 24, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I don't know that a tax is the answer, but it's an idea.

No question, many people will have to re-train for other things. However, I suspect that's easier to say than to do because not everyone can handle the changes. In addition, what would they re-train to do, especially if the jobs are being taken by robotics. I guess, robot repair and maintenance might be on-the-up.

This all depends on continuing to require money to buy food and energy. Unless there's a fundamental change to the requirement for money, a tax seems like a reasonable idea. Implementing it is more of a challenge. I don;'t think that taking the robots offshore is likely to work, especially if you think of where the robots would be deployed.

There's a good piece here which is worth a read, along with a number of links to other reading matter.
[bbc.co.uk...]
6:05 pm on Feb 24, 2017 (gmt 0)

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What is being (alluded to, but not expressly stated) is a living wage at birth (whatever gender is declared) in perpetuity because of the robots. That's not likely to happen.
6:12 pm on Feb 24, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I guess, robot repair and maintenance might be on-the-up.
As well as design and programming of robotics.

If you're in a mindless job that can be automated or spend most of your time doing what other people tell you to do (instead of using your brain creatively), you're probably going to be obsolete in a few years. Although most of the jobs so far have been blue collar (manufacturing, warehouse workers, ordering, and soon logistics), some types of white collar jobs will be next.

Besides the sci-fi aspects of it, what I really like about the TV show "Humans" is their exploration of the ethical side of human-like robotics and what happens when they start taking away jobs from people higher up the food chain.
3:54 pm on Feb 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@tangor, not at birth, but some countries are seriously considering it. It replaces welfare systems and is much simpler to administer and solves bad incentives welfare systems can create, and in many cases simplifies tax as well. It might happen.
3:59 pm on Feb 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Chuckles! Anything else I might say would be politics and we don't do politics at WW. Social engineering, perhaps, (think SEO), but not politics!
1:22 am on Mar 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I remember watching a TV program called "Tomorrow's World" on the BBC about 45 years ago where in one episode they described a future where everything would be automated and computer controlled. They predicted that this would transform society because mankind would no longer have to work 5 or 6 days a week and everyone would have a better standard of living and devote their waking hours to artistic and cultural pursuits. Well they got that slightly wrong didn't they!

Unless we evolve our capitalist system in some way I can't see that taxing robots or computers will ever work because the owners of the robots will just pass the cost on to their customers one way or another.

As technology progresses then a universal basic income is inevitable because it is the only option other than mass euthanasia to reduce the population. We just have to change society to allow this. The alternative is that the underclass who will never get a job increases exponentially, and civil strife and true class war becomes the norm.
5:24 pm on Mar 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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There are better solutions: e.g. a universal basic income, investment in education, and limiting working hours.

Back in the 60s we were told that we would all be working 2 days a week by now. Not only are people working just as long if not longer but retirement ages are going up too.
 

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