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AI Robotics EU Government The Almighty Buck Technology

EU Moves To Bring In AI Laws, But Rejects Robot Tax Proposal (newatlas.com) 72

An anonymous reader quotes a report from New Atlas: The European Parliament has voted on a resolution to regulate the development of artificial intelligence and robotics across the European Union. Based on a raft of recommendations drafted in a report submitted in January to the legal affairs committee, the proposed rules include establishing ethical standards for the development of artificial intelligence, and introducing an insurance scheme to cover liability for accidents involving driverless cars. Not every element in the broad-ranging report was accepted by the Parliament though, with a recommendation to institute a "robot tax" roundly rejected. The robot tax proposal was designed to create a fund that manages the repercussions and retraining of workers made redundant through the increased deployment of industrial and service robots. But those in the robotics industry were supportive of the Parliamentary rejection, with the International Federation of Robotics suggesting to Reuters a robot tax would have been harmful to the burgeoning industry, stifling innovation and competitiveness. The European Parliament passed the resolution comfortably with 396 votes to 123, with 85 abstentions.
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EU Moves To Bring In AI Laws, But Rejects Robot Tax Proposal

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  • That's a new one. My first thought was "What if androids have to pay income taxes in the future?"

    • by Qzukk ( 229616 )

      Dunno how Europeans do it, but here in the US they will almost certainly be subject to property tax once human income tax dries up, if not sooner.

      • Income tax.The argument is, if robotic replacement of human workers becomes widespread, the income tax formerly paid by the human should be levied against the robotic worker, or basic government services might disappear.

        I assume a similar levy is presently paid by farm machinery.

        • if robotic replacement of human workers becomes widespread, the income tax formerly paid by the human should be levied against the robotic worker

          The Socialist Party candidate for the President of France [bloomberg.com] has acutally proposed to do this. Fortunately for the French, he is way behind in the polls and has a near zero chance of winning.

          • This guy [cnbc.com] has come out in favor of it, too.
            • It's a dumb idea. How do you determine the tax on each individual robot? Better to have a manufacturer's excise tax - it's just a percentage of the invoice. We had this before we introduced the GST, and it was much easier to administer, in part because it didn't tax services (but since services consume manufactured goods, they contributed indirectly in direct proportion to their consumption of goods).

              Taxing robots will end up with too many loopholes and people trying to game the system.

              • How do you determine the tax on each individual robot?

                It should be based on how many jobs are destroyed. For instance, if someone invented a "washing machine" that could wash clothes automatically instead of employing millions of laundresses to manually scrub those clothes on a washboard, then those machines should obviously be heavily taxed. The same for "dishwasher" machines that destroy the jobs of scullery maids. Or worst of all, if someone were to automate the job of "switchboard operator", by using some sort of computer to route phone calls, that woul

                • Remember Das Kapital? It was written around the time when the Industrial Revolution was constantly creating and destroying jobs. I'm still wondering when the next similar movement will show up. We already have anti-globalization movements, eventually we'll have those too.

                • by Anonymous Coward

                  That was actually proposed by the Italian Communist Party in the '90s: it was called "tax on technological innovation". It would heavily punish all those horrible technological pioneers who dared to come up with new things.

        • Well, the people with the money don't really care about basic gov't services and definitely don't want to pay for them. They would MUCH rather just live in a separate area where they only pay for their own services (or even better, the gov't pays for them), and nobody else can use "their" stuff, like their roads, buildings, schools, hospitals.

          They are willing to pay for the 90% to go somewhere else and fight a war, as long as not very many of them come back.

      • Property tax is used to fund schools, primarily so that well to do neighborhoods don't have to fund schools in poor neighborhoods. It also serves to keep lower income people out of higher income areas by adding an additional financial burden to home ownership.

        One thing it is _not_ used for is to control wealth inequality in the way your suggesting. We used to use high marginal tax rates (90% on amounts over $12 million/year if you adjust for inflation) combined with heavy corporate and business taxes to
      • The EU already is 'robotized' since decades.
        And unlike idiots in the USA no one is replacing a burger turner with a robot, or a waitress with a robot (automated food delievery system).
        No one would go into a restaurant where everything is automated. Then you can simply take some frozen food from your fridge an put it ino ta micro wave.
        There is no 'robots will take all over fear' in the EU, and no, we would not tax a company extra for using a robot. We tax companies on profit, and bottom line we tax owners/sh

        • by Anonymous Coward

          "And unlike idiots in the USA no one is replacing a burger turner with a robot, or a waitress with a robot"
          I would ease up on calling Americans idiots if you actually believe anything you wrote. I eat out quite a lot and have never seen robots running any of the restaurants. Automated drink dispensers are not robots.

          The EU contribution to the AI age will be creating regulations while everyone else will be busy creating the AI age. And is there anything in Europe that is not regulated by the unelected EU bur

      • by jezwel ( 2451108 )
        It should be simply the company owning the robot earns company income and pays company tax at the normal rate.
        If I buy a robot for my own use (autonomous car, au pair, cleaner, it already attracts a value add type tax, plus the company that manufactured the robot will pay company tax.
    • Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep Taxes?

      Hey, sounds fair to me. If they don't like it, they can move back to Mars.

    • ...but that won't stop them from being fleeced!

  • Hi many pages of regulations did this represent?
  • I am no legislator, nor even a lawyer... but I think that any AI with the potential to harm humans should be requires to have sufficient safety features built into it to minimize the risk it presents to below that of a human performing the same tasks.

    That puts human safety over cost savings: if the AI isn't safe enough, you can't replace a human with it regardless of how much more cost effective it is.

    And that's pretty much the standard we see being used to judge driverless cars, not just because it's somet

    • A driverless car is not an AI.
      There are only very few very weak pieces in it that come from the 'weak AI' research topics like pattern recognition and route planning.
      There is no artificial mind in the center of the 'cars computer' thinking: 'I have to drive safe!' Or evil thinking: 'will they "kill me" if I deliberatly drive over this ugly fagg'?

      • A driverless car is not an AI.

        That would depend on your definition of intelligence. First dictionary entry says: "the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.", which would apply to driving a car in traffic.

        • No, it does not depend on my definition of intelligence.

          It depends on the definition of the term "artificial intelligence".

          "the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.", which would apply to driving a car in traffic.
          No it would not, a self driving car is not acquiring knowledge, and if it is "applying" knowledge is also very questionable, because if you consider "data" as knowledge then nearly everything is an AI.

      • There are only very few very weak pieces in it that come from the 'weak AI' research topics like pattern recognition and route planning.

        That's what most people mean by "AI": running algorithms developed by AI researchers.

        • Well, then the AI is in the camera but not in the computer doing the driving :) and we have another AI doing route planning :)

          But strictly speaking both are not AI and the whole system neither.

    • This is a sane position, but the problem isn't quite so simple as that. AI development is competitive: whoever builds the first super-intelligent AGI is probably going to win big time. Any team that bothers to spend time considering safety is likely to lose to teams that don't.

      I'm not entirely sure how we can avoid that. Even if you managed to pass global laws, how do you deal with people secretly breaking the law?

      (Of course there's a big difference between AGI and driverless cars; the latter is pretty easy

    • Right. And it's not even that hard to test. Before you are allowed to put a driverless car on the market, you must demonstrate that a prototype can drive so many miles under a range of typical circumstances with a limited number of accidents.

      • Before you are allowed to put a driverless car on the market, you must demonstrate that a prototype can drive so many miles under a range of typical circumstances with a limited number of accidents.

        More specifically, such a robocar should meet the same requirement that human drivers must meet:.
        That is, pass a standard driver's test in every state and province where it is licensed, day or night,
        and in every kind of weather that is likely to occur in that area.

  • Random thinking here. If one were to create/utilize AI scripts to provide a value for cash, is that not akin to owning one or more slaves for the same purpose? I haven't thought this through deeply, but I'm seeing some parallels. If that were the case, would taxing the "robots" help prevent a slaver type viewpoint?
    • Well... anything you'd call a 'script' wouldn't be 'AI', and you don't have to worry much about if you're treating an AI ethically unless and until you make one that is self-aware.

      Of course if you've managed to make a self-aware AI, you probably also designed it to be happy doing whatever it is you built it for. Is it slavery if your AI wants to serve you even to the point of its own destruction, and in fact enjoys doing so?

      • A script can be as AI as a compiled binary. There is no difference.

        I guess crafting a self aware computer program is much more easy than making an AI.

      • Are they going to define what an AI is? Everything involving a computer now is considered AI by many (not saying I do) - a CNC or an autonomous car (and yes, CNC machines use feedback). I did autonomous car research in college and a little while after and at the time it was control systems [wikipedia.org] which uses a lot of math for pole placement for smooth steering or doing things like backing up a 3 trailer truck and acceleration for lateral (control) positioning.
    • If one were to create/utilize AI scripts to provide a value for cash, is that not akin to owning one or more slaves for the same purpose?

      If one were to eat tofu for dinner, is that not akin to consuming human flesh for the same purpose?

      I haven't thought this through deeply

      Indeed.

      • If one were to eat tofu for dinner, is that not akin to consuming human flesh for the same purpose?

        Robo-post detected. Humans don't eat tofu. At least not willingly. Please report for disassembly.

  • How do you calculate a tax rate for robots? Does a completely integrated robotic factory (in essence just a robot with thousands of actuators) pay the same tax than a kitchen aid? What about vehicles? If they are AI driven then it's a robot and must pay taxes? Will you have to pay taxes for your Roomba? What if the robot is controlled remotely by a powerful CPU? What if it's not a remote CPU but a cloud of processing power, and more power is used if the robot's decisions are harder to make? The list is endl

    • require companies to attribute profits to robots and go from there.

      I suppose there are other schemes, but the appeal of a Robot tax is not in how easy it is to implement. It's in the phrase "Robot Tax". It's simple, it makes sense and it solves one of the age old problems of socialism: labeling taxation theft. You're not taxing the man, your taxing his robots.

      It's silly. We should just recognize that all human beings are due a good life and work towards that end but well, humans are greedy, dumb and
  • And corporations should pay twice that

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Meanwhile, in Brussels: "I don't understand why all the successful technology companies are American? Maybe we need more regulations to help European technology companies succeed. I hear AI is taking off, so lets create some regulations for that. That's sure the make Europe a leader in AI"

  • This is yet another non binding resolution, by this fake parliament that has too much time to spend considering its small powers. As TFA says:

    The Commission is not legally obliged to institute the Parliament's recommendations but it must state fair reasons for anything that's rejected.

    • Sure, the EU 'parliament' basically has veto power and can make recommendations. It's not a legislature.

      • Even the veto power is restricted to directives that go through the co-decision process [between EU council and EU parliament]. There are other subjets where it is just asked its opinion, or others where it is not involved at all.
  • Taxes keep everything running and repaired. If they don't pay taxes, you will!!
  • EU and governments all over the world would do anything to protect corporations. The only tax they'll push is slacker tax in case you didn't find a job fast enough after a robot took yours

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