Author Topic: Does the taxation of robotics make any sense  (Read 12130 times)

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Offline apis

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Re: Does the taxation of robotics make any sense
« Reply #200 on: April 13, 2019, 07:33:52 pm »
To be honest I think we are getting into topics that do not lend themselves to quiet discussion and will probably result in tempers flaring and moderators intervening so I would ask everybody to please keep away from these topics or we risk getting the thread locked.  Just my humble opinion.
This whole thread is off topic and political which breaks the rules. I'm surprised it hasn't been locked.

I'm impressed at how well-behaved most people here have been, discussing controversial subjects such as tax and Brexit.
Agreed and personally I won't shed any tears if the thread is locked. I found the original topic about tax of robots to be somewhat interesting. Automation will not stop and there need to be some way for people to make a living in the future, there's a lot that can be said about that. Then it turned into another Brexit thread. It presented an opportunity to correct some misconceptions about the EU though, so maybe something good came out of it.

I'm well aware that the rest of the world thinks the UK has gone full retard on Brexit, apart from the US far right perhaps, but how many others have thought about why some people want to leave?
They think so too, they just think the USA benefits from a weak EU and and an even weaker UK which would be easier for them to manipulate. (I'm aware that's not the majority view in the US though.)
 

Offline Rick Law

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Re: Does the taxation of robotics make any sense
« Reply #201 on: April 13, 2019, 08:28:18 pm »
Governments need money to function (and in the case of Spain to waste and steal in huge quantities) but the tax structure must be carefully designed so it does not discourage economic activity and productivity. 

One of the major causes of the economy being so bad in Spain is the terrible tax structure. Taxing energy is what the geniuses in Spain do and the result is industries that use large amounts of energy are not competitive and go elsewhere. Aluminum manufacturer Alcoa just closed a factory in northern Spain.

In my view it is bad to have a culture where the people believe they are owed jobs (meaning salaries) and that the government should protect them from competition from automation, imports, or any other cause. The result of protectionism in any way, shape or form is always that the general public pays higher prices for lower quality products.

The issue of "robot tax" goes beyond keeping government function.  As I brought up before the thread gone full BREXIT, robots are getting more and more capable.  There will be a point when robots are improved to a point where robots out perform 50% of the human population, and then there will be a point when robots out perform 90% the population...  So eventually, we get to a percentage where almost all human are out performed by robots.  What then?

If you accept my premise that "robot outperforms a certain percentage of humans and the percentage keep increasing.  Somewhere between 10% to 99.99%, society will break down."   The acceptance of this premise implies that you also accept "we must do something to changes how society functions" or you accept that "civilization as we know it would be gone."

Taxing robo-workers may be a way, upgrading humans by enhancing human capability with technology may be is another way.  I don't really like the idea that my grand-children are Borgs, but may be that is inevitable.

I am a small government low tax guy.  ie: I personally would not like robot-worker tax either.  So I am eagerly awaiting some clever suggestion this forum may bring.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2019, 08:34:05 pm by Rick Law »
 

Online Zero999

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Re: Does the taxation of robotics make any sense
« Reply #202 on: April 13, 2019, 09:02:24 pm »
I don't accept that robots replacing humans in all jobs is 100% certainty, but I wouldn't say it's an impossible either. In any case, I cant see it happening in my lifetime and even the next generation's is probably unrealistic.

I doubt computers will achieve the same conscience and awareness levels as humans and the idea of them becoming self-replicating is very unlikely. Even if building a computer with the capability of human consciousness becomes a possibility, I doubt it will become popular, because it would defeat the purpose of giving jobs to machines: they don't get bored, tired etc.

As machines improve, humans just do less work and what they do is better paid and I can't see this changing any time soon.

Any tax theoretically is burden on the economy, unless it's reinvested into something which will improve the economy such as transport infrastructure and welfare programmes which make more people employable and get them into work. Some taxes may be bad for the economy, but it could be argued that it's a fair price to pay for environmental reasons, i.e. energy taxes on the most polluting fuels. The only downside is the pollution just moves abroad, which is what's happened in the UK: no one wants to shit in their own backyard!
 

Online rstofer

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Re: Does the taxation of robotics make any sense
« Reply #203 on: April 13, 2019, 09:17:29 pm »
If you accept my premise that "robot outperforms a certain percentage of humans and the percentage keep increasing.  Somewhere between 10% to 99.99%, society will break down."   The acceptance of this premise implies that you also accept "we must do something to changes how society functions" or you accept that "civilization as we know it would be gone."

The tax money to support those who can't or don't want to work has to come from somewhere and it can't keep coming at the same total amount from fewer and fewer workers to more and more non-workers.

I have no idea how it's going to work out.  Raising the minimum wage increases the use of robotics as the low end jobs are the easiest to automate.  Walmart is going all in on janitorial robots and this should cause some alarm.  Taxing the robots?  Beats me!  But one thing is certain, Walmart won't be the only company doing this.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/05/walmart-will-use-hundreds-of-ai-robot-janitors-to-scrub-store-floors.html

And Amazon:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/10/technology/amazon-robots-workers.html

I started working on Numerical Control machines way back in '69.  Over the 50 years since, I have seen some pretty staggering changes.  Heck, today everybody has CNC Mills and 3D Printers in their garage workshops.  The next 50 years should be exciting!

 

Offline Rick Law

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Re: Does the taxation of robotics make any sense
« Reply #204 on: April 14, 2019, 06:04:59 am »
If you accept my premise that "robot outperforms a certain percentage of humans and the percentage keep increasing.  Somewhere between 10% to 99.99%, society will break down."   The acceptance of this premise implies that you also accept "we must do something to changes how society functions" or you accept that "civilization as we know it would be gone."

The tax money to support those who can't or don't want to work has to come from somewhere and it can't keep coming at the same total amount from fewer and fewer workers to more and more non-workers.

I have no idea how it's going to work out.  Raising the minimum wage increases the use of robotics as the low end jobs are the easiest to automate.  Walmart is going all in on janitorial robots and this should cause some alarm.  Taxing the robots?  Beats me!  But one thing is certain, Walmart won't be the only company doing this.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/05/walmart-will-use-hundreds-of-ai-robot-janitors-to-scrub-store-floors.html

And Amazon:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/10/technology/amazon-robots-workers.html

I started working on Numerical Control machines way back in '69.  Over the 50 years since, I have seen some pretty staggering changes.  Heck, today everybody has CNC Mills and 3D Printers in their garage workshops.  The next 50 years should be exciting!

I don't know how that would work out either, but I think my reasoning there is sound that biological evolution is going to improve human a lot slower than human can improve robots, so the clash is coming.  If you are IQ=50, robot will out perform you soon.  If you are IQ=200, robot will out perform you later but it will out perform you.

In fact, it looks like because we evolved compassion and as a result we are reversing some biological evolution resulted improvements - we are helping the "evolution-wise less fit" stay alive and reproduce because we are compassionate people.  A good thing to do but it has consequences that we must deal with.

So, reasoning would say, we will also use our technology to exercise our compassion - use technology to help those at a disadvantage to "even the playing field".  That kills two birds with one stone - we help the less fit be equally fit and we make our own improvement at a pace that can catch up with or even exceeds robotic-improvements.  Wonderful solution and it is all good and fine, but we would have to accept ourselves turning into Borgs.

In some ways, I am glad I am old and retired.  I wont be pleased to play ball with a great-grand-child who can throw a ball at near super-sonic speed and has a open in the skull for additional optional feature cards.  Then again, a child with an on-off switch could be a god send when you really need some peace and quiet.
 

Online rstofer

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Re: Does the taxation of robotics make any sense
« Reply #205 on: April 14, 2019, 08:35:31 am »
In some ways, I am glad I am old and retired.  I wont be pleased to play ball with a great-grand-child who can throw a ball at near super-sonic speed and has a open in the skull for additional optional feature cards.  Then again, a child with an on-off switch could be a god send when you really need some peace and quiet.

I'm also old and 15 years retired so I clearly don't have much skin in the game.  I'm not sure how things will work out for my grandson but I am sure it will work out better with an engineering degree.  Somebody has to design and program the 'bots until Skylab goes live and robots become sentient and self-replicating...
 

Offline soldar

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Re: Does the taxation of robotics make any sense
« Reply #206 on: April 14, 2019, 10:15:57 am »
Again, when 95% of the population worked in farming and agriculture the notion that machines would replace most of them was terrifying. What would all those displaced do?

Computers replaced accountants and other clerical jobs.

The net result for societies that underwent those changes has been a huge raise in the standard of living for all. Today in rich countries those out of jobs are better off than those who had farming or mining  jobs 200 years ago.

A more productive society is a society where less work provides higher standard of living for its members. If I can produce the same result with half the effort it means I can have more leisure time or I can work more and produce more.

The notion that automation makes things worse for anybody is just not supported by history or by careful thinking. People have been freed to do other things and also to enjoy more leisure time.

"But this time it's different!" has been repeated since the dawn of time.

OK, if you don't want to share the results of progress and automation you can easily go to places in the third world where they enjoy life as it was centuries ago. No lack of jobs there. Just surviving each day is a full time job. Your day will be filled just with finding some water to drink and finding a rat to eat. You will live a "sustainable lifestyle", "in balance with nature". No unemployment problems there.
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Offline soldar

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Re: Does the taxation of robotics make any sense
« Reply #207 on: April 14, 2019, 04:21:40 pm »
Probably the next jobs to be replaced by automation will be vehicle drivers, truck drivers, cab drivers, etc.  That should reduce the cost of shipping and transportation substantially and make life better for everybody. Just like railways, automobiles, trucks and steamships did in their day.

The problem is not that jobs are lost. The problem is that the new jobs require higher training and knowledge than the old jobs.

It used to be that any able-bodied man could get a job which only required physical ability. Digging, carrying, loading, etc. were open to anyone. Other jobs required a little more training and experience: soldier, sailor, tinker, tailor...

Communities were tighter and anyone could find informal work in exchange for basic necessities like food and lodging. Young women could become servants in a richer household until the day they got married.

Later came simple jobs like assembly line jobs, telephone operators, etc.

The problem today is not that some jobs are disappearing. The problem is that the requirements for any sort of productive job have increased exponentially and people with no education or training have it more difficult than before. Another negative consequence is that inequality is increasing. This is a natural consequence of the difference in productivity between jobs also increasing.

The solution is not protectionism of any kind. The solution is to have a better educated and trained workforce and a social organization that foments investment and entrepreneurs.

There is no way to have millions of people flipping burgers and making higher middle class salaries. No way. Salaries are commensurate with the value produced by the job done and if the job produces low value then it will be compensated accordingly.
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Offline apis

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Re: Does the taxation of robotics make any sense
« Reply #208 on: April 14, 2019, 05:23:07 pm »
Again, when 95% of the population worked in farming and agriculture the notion that machines would replace most of them was terrifying. What would all those displaced do?

Computers replaced accountants and other clerical jobs.

The net result for societies that underwent those changes has been a huge raise in the standard of living for all.
Yes, the improvements to our living standard that technology has created is quite amazing. I believe I've heard that today only about 3% of the workforce is working with essential infrastructure such as food and energy production. So in theory 97% could go unemployed and we would still have food an heating for everyone. But instead of working less than we used to we work more!

Today in rich countries those out of jobs are better off than those who had farming or mining  jobs 200 years ago.
Mining perhaps, but farmers have always been doing quite well. (Well, not always, but for the most part). They owned land, and probably ate better and had healthier lifestyles than the majority of people today.
 

Offline soldar

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Re: Does the taxation of robotics make any sense
« Reply #209 on: April 14, 2019, 06:05:43 pm »
Mining perhaps, but farmers have always been doing quite well. (Well, not always, but for the most part). They owned land, and probably ate better and had healthier lifestyles than the majority of people today.

Before machinery cereals were harvested by hand, with a scythe, the grain separated from the straw manually. It was backbreaking work for young strong people and the productivity was dismal. The work that went into making a loaf of bread was huge.

Today one combine harvester machine does in one day the work hundreds of workers did in a month. I could go into growing grapes or other fruits or crops. Things have changed drastically. A century or two ago farming was backbreaking work with productivity that was infinitesimally low compared to today's.
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Offline apis

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Re: Does the taxation of robotics make any sense
« Reply #210 on: April 14, 2019, 06:30:40 pm »
Mining perhaps, but farmers have always been doing quite well. (Well, not always, but for the most part). They owned land, and probably ate better and had healthier lifestyles than the majority of people today.
Before machinery cereals were harvested by hand, with a scythe, the grain separated from the straw manually. It was backbreaking work for young strong people and the productivity was dismal. The work that went into making a loaf of bread was huge.

Today one combine harvester machine does in one day the work hundreds of workers did in a month. I could go into growing grapes or other fruits or crops. Things have changed drastically. A century or two ago farming was backbreaking work with productivity that was infinitesimally low compared to today's.
Sure, they had to do a lot of work for their loaf of bread, but the quality of the food they had is something most people can't afford today. Physical activity (within reason) isn't bad for you. They owned their own house and land and they had animals. They usually weren't starving, if they did it was because of the weather/climate not because they were poor.

The improvements in technology means that only 3% has to work in the fields today, compared to 95% in the past, but that doesn't automatically mean that everyone is better off today. Still, I wouldn't want to live back then, mainly because of improved healthcare.

https://maisonneuve.org/post/2013/09/18/us-income-inequality/
 

Online Zero999

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Re: Does the taxation of robotics make any sense
« Reply #211 on: April 14, 2019, 09:43:44 pm »
Probably the next jobs to be replaced by automation will be vehicle drivers, truck drivers, cab drivers, etc.  That should reduce the cost of shipping and transportation substantially and make life better for everybody. Just like railways, automobiles, trucks and steamships did in their day.
Driverless road vehicles won't become mainstream any time soon. Just because it's technically possible, it doesn't mean it'll happen. The technology to fully automate railways has existed for a long time, yet most trains still have human drivers. Driving on the road is much more technically difficult, than rail, which adds more doubt to this. People obviously don't feel comfortable with this technology.

What we really need to work on is having less environmental impact: doing more, using less energy and producing less waste.
 

Offline Rick Law

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Re: Does the taxation of robotics make any sense
« Reply #212 on: April 14, 2019, 10:49:31 pm »
Again, when 95% of the population worked in farming and agriculture the notion that machines would replace most of them was terrifying. What would all those displaced do?

Computers replaced accountants and other clerical jobs.

The net result for societies that underwent those changes has been a huge raise in the standard of living for all.
Yes, the improvements to our living standard that technology has created is quite amazing. I believe I've heard that today only about 3% of the workforce is working with essential infrastructure such as food and energy production. So in theory 97% could go unemployed and we would still have food an heating for everyone. But instead of working less than we used to we work more!
...
...

I think it is important to draw the distinction between prior and current automation.  Up until this decade, automation were mainly dumb mechanization - machine-decision based on largely single or very limited number of variables such as "is the field level?" as determined by reflecting laser.  Now, the automation is AI based with AI doing important decision making with multiple inputs from direct sensors and machine's own learned experiences.

An automated floor cleaner has the intelligence of perhaps an insect.  A self-driving car needs intelligence at or above that of a bird.  So improving AI will keep the pressure on work with low IQ requirement.

The talk that the machines will need programmer is probably true for the immediate future.  That AI is improving in ability and able to do work with higher IQ requirement is probably also true.  AI displaying high IQ workers is what differs between today's automation and mechanization of prior years.  With more and more works being done by AI, how would living standard of the replaced improve?

With that said, I still do not believe that taxing robot is a good solution or even an adequate solution.  Beside income, the lost of occupation for an individual also cause a lost of self-worth, dignity, so on.  Some propose that leads to drug addiction.

I really hope I am wrong that if we stay on the current trajectory, an increasing percentage of the population cannot contribute to the society they live in.  The solution will rest on the shoulders of the young today.  They will have to figure out how to operate a society where most cannot contribute, or they need to find a path where the less-able can continue to participate and to contribute to the society they belong.
 

Offline coppercone2

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Re: Does the taxation of robotics make any sense
« Reply #213 on: April 14, 2019, 11:47:25 pm »
robots suck at customization. you can customize stuff to make it more useful to make premium quality goods. Imagine all those 'drones' start becoming their own engineers. There is plenty of things people want done on the planet that can't be done economically with robotics.

I think thin exo-skelletons and bio implants will level the playing field between man and machine. Imagine snow plow guys running around with power suits getting the snow out of everywhere (not just the concrete walking areas). The dexterity and intelligence of man will beat out a machine so long his strength and stamina can be increased for many if not most jobs. Not to mention brain implants and advanced nootropic drugs. 

Or construction workers scaling bare structural frames with a grider in one arm and welders attached to their suit. And they would actually make stuff thats strong and looks nice, not some concrete 3d printed concrete igloo shit. Magnetic shoes and all..

All you need to do is reduce 'hand fitting' time in assembly to beat out complex machinery and robotics, because you can do things by hand it just takes a while (but it never needs to be calibrated unlike some giant machines). You just need to make the 120 pound guys into 300lb gorillas with x-ray vision some how.

I think once the technology is developed, making a better man is going to be cheaper and more economical then making a advanced machine that needs a advanced support staff to replace man.

Yea you can mass produce, but its not customized, does not fit well into the envisioned engineering spec (how much stuff comes out looking and working like ASS because of off the shelf parts?) and its of low quality and you can get systemic failures which result in catastrophes (imagine a pre-made structural materials plant having spec problems and failing to catch a bad batch of mass produced stuff. If it was made by people, it would be way more likely to be noticed. #1 reason its not pursued is because of capital cost of machinery and long ROI's.

All engineering designs can be honed to do their job better in the relevant 'design quadrant (i.e. reliability, weight, cost) if their fully customized. Trades people used to do this more.. and even now it can turn into a logistical nightmare (i.e. you spend 3 days looking for some bracket online rather then being able to make it yourself). I personally think you can develop technologies in such a way that many more products and services on earth become 'boutique'. I think its a healthy and important avenue of human individuality and expression, so you don't feel like a uniform drop in a bucket.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2019, 12:11:07 am by coppercone2 »
 

Online SilverSolder

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Re: Does the taxation of robotics make any sense
« Reply #214 on: April 15, 2019, 01:23:07 pm »
many more products and services on earth become 'boutique'.

...That sounds right, and has been the path of history so far.  -  And it will be the source of future jobs.
 

Offline IDEngineer

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Re: Does the taxation of robotics make any sense
« Reply #215 on: April 16, 2019, 03:33:48 pm »
Companies should be expected to have a certain amount of employees based on their profits, and get taxed heavily if they are under that amount.
"Companies should be expected"? That is literally a government telling someone how to run their company. Do we really want that?

Example 1: Say an Engineer invents some technology. She creates an LLC to control her liability, and licenses that technology to multiple companies who pay her ongoing royalties. She makes a couple million dollars a year in this way, all 100% legal and moral and ethical, and pays taxes in the usual way. Above and beyond that, what is the "certain amount of employees" she should be REQUIRED to hire? What jobs should they perform?

Example 2: An artist who works alone in his studio creates a painting that is wildly successful. So he creates a limited edition run of 100 "signed originals" and sells those over the course of a few years, netting income of several million dollars all 100% legal and moral and ethical, and pays taxes in the usual way. Above and beyond that, what is the "certain amount of employees" this artist should be REQUIRED to hire? What jobs should they perform?

Sometimes ideas can sound good - until you think them through. Letting a government tell a businessperson how to run their business has to be very near the top of that list.
 
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Online rstofer

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Re: Does the taxation of robotics make any sense
« Reply #216 on: April 16, 2019, 03:43:24 pm »
Companies should be expected to have a certain amount of employees based on their profits, and get taxed heavily if they are under that amount.
"Companies should be expected"? That is literally a government telling someone how to run their company. Do we really want that?

Example 1: Say an Engineer invents some technology. She creates an LLC to control her liability, and licenses that technology to multiple companies who pay her ongoing royalties. She makes a couple million dollars a year in this way, all 100% legal and moral and ethical, and pays taxes in the usual way. Above and beyond that, what is the "certain amount of employees" she should be REQUIRED to hire? What jobs should they perform?

Example 2: An artist who works alone in his studio creates a painting that is wildly successful. So he creates a limited edition run of 100 "signed originals" and sells those over the course of a few years, netting income of several million dollars all 100% legal and moral and ethical, and pays taxes in the usual way. Above and beyond that, what is the "certain amount of employees" this artist should be REQUIRED to hire? What jobs should they perform?

Sometimes ideas can sound good - until you think them through. Letting a government tell a businessperson how to run their business has to be very near the top of that list.

Other times, the ideas are patently absurd and don't need any thought at all.  Governments can't even arrange their own finances, the last thing we need is having politicians getting involved with business.  Don't forget, the world is a very big place.  There is plenty of room to off-shore a business with a much more favorable tax structure.  Apple comes to mind...  Ireland and Gibraltar are considered tax havens.
 
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