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Government Robotics Politics Technology

San Francisco Politician Jane Kim Is Exploring a Tax On Robots (businessinsider.com) 239

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Business Insider: In San Francisco, where robots already run food deliveries for Yelp's Eat24 and make lattes at a mall coffee kiosk, one politician is working to ensure the city stays ahead of the curve. Supervisor Jane Kim is exploring a tax on robots as one solution to offset the economic devastation a robot-powered workforce might bring. Companies that use robots to perform tasks previously done by humans would pay the city. Those public funds might be used to help retrain workers who lose their jobs to robots or to finance a basic income initiative. Kim, one of 11 city supervisors in San Francisco, has been interviewing tech leaders, labor groups, and public policy experts in the hopes of creating a task force that will explore how a "robot tax" might be implemented. San Francisco would become the first city to create such a tax, after European lawmakers rejected a similar proposal in February. Kim learned the concept of a robot tax when Bill Gates called for one in an interview with Quartz. It struck a chord with the San Francisco politician, who represents some of the poorest and wealthiest residents across the Tenderloin, South of Market, Civic Center, Treasure Island, and several other neighborhoods. She hears of robots cropping up in hotels, hospitals, and even her local bar, and worries about how automation might deepen the income gap.
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San Francisco Politician Jane Kim Is Exploring a Tax On Robots

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  • San Franciso (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Highest tax rate in the Western Hemisphere and constantly bankrupt.

    • Re:San Franciso (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2017 @05:14PM (#54343875) Homepage Journal
      Has there EVER been a politician born that attained office that didn't thing of EVERYTHING they saw as a taxable opportunity???

      Is there none of them, that come from the regular people pool that know we pay too much already, and could better keep and spend our own money rather than find some new, creative way to give to the a bloated bureaucracy and hope they can spend it better than we that earned it can?!?!?!

      • Apparently, you consider sitting around and letting robots do work for you to be "earning".

        • Re:San Franciso (Score:4, Insightful)

          by ArmoredDragon ( 3450605 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2017 @09:25PM (#54345307)

          Apparently, you consider sitting around and letting robots do work for you to be "earning".

          Well, how are we going to define a robot? If it's a machine that can accomplish physical tasks automatically without human input, then it's quite broad; calculators would be included, for example.

          At work I was asked to configure a bunch of switches (about 70) with the same command set with small variation, and it was expected to take about a day to do, which would mean I'd have to manually open an SSH session numerous times. Instead I just wrote a script in 10 minutes that completed the job in 5 minutes.

          Does that mean I'd have to pay a tax? If so, that's absurd, and I'd fight that tooth and nail.

          We can't just tax shit just because somebody came up with a way to automate it, otherwise the tech industry itself would have to be taxed to basically nonexistence. The word "computer" used to refer to a person, whereas nowadays it refers to an object. The economy simply cannot scale without automation, and it will severely hamper growth if we have to tax every little thing that gets automated.

          By the way, I'm calling BS on anybody who thinks automation will make human labor obsolete or will otherwise result in long-term job losses. Yes, frictional unemployment is a real thing, but every time it happens it always ends up being temporary. You may as well argue that the telecom industry should have less employees now than in the past because automated switchboards replaced manual switchboards.

          And off on a tangent, UBI is a retarded concept that won't help anything. People assume that income inequality actually matters, but in reality it's irrelevant. What is relevant and important is consumption inequality. For perspective, slashdot had an article that explained that $100,000 a year income is considered low income in San Francisco, yet that's considered high income in most other major cities. Why is this? Because costs of consumption vary by region.

          UBI may increase incomes (it certainly won't do any favors for income inequality, by the way,) but it won't help consumption inequality at all, and will probably just make it worse.

          • Re:San Franciso (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2017 @09:49PM (#54345405)

            I'm calling BS on anybody who thinks automation will make human labor obsolete or will otherwise result in long-term job losses. Yes, frictional unemployment is a real thing, but every time it happens it always ends up being temporary.

            That will certainly change once the intellectual ability relevant to business tasks contained in a machine matches that of the median human employee. It won't just be a race against simple mechanical contraptions and dumb state machines any longer.

            Just because you have observed some trend in the past, it doesn't mean that trend will necessarily continue forever, especially when the fundamentals behind that trend are changing radically.

            • Just because you have observed some trend in the past, it doesn't mean that trend will necessarily continue forever, especially when the fundamentals behind that trend are changing radically.

              Let's suppose the trend does end: Who will buy your automatically produced goods if nobody has any money to do so? If that truly was the case, then you'd be looking at more of a Star Trek style economy, and money would become mostly irrelevant. In such a scenario, consumption inequality would likely still be a thing, but a basic income would be rather pointless, as would any other form of money redistribution.

              I honestly don't think it will come to that though. Instead what will happen is personal goods you

              • Let's suppose the trend does end: Who will buy your automatically produced goods if nobody has any money to do so?

                That's exactly why so many of us are worried about the rapid rise of automation and machine learning! As the AC below noted, it's likely to cause massive economic issues as this picks up speed.

                Does that mean we have less demand for mathematician jobs than we otherwise would? You bet. But instead the mathematicians we do have are now solving more complex problems, and are overall more wealthy than they would have been if there weren't computers.

                That's a cute analogy, but it doesn't cover the millions and millions of people that are going to be out of work in the next 10-15 years. Computers and switchboards only impacted very narrow job categories that not a lot of people were doing. There are millions and millions of truck drivers, warehouse workers, and fa

      • Oy (Score:4, Insightful)

        by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2017 @05:33PM (#54344001) Homepage Journal

        Punitively taxing progress in order to protect the buggy whip.

        Yeah, this is sure to work out for the best.

        • by dwpro ( 520418 )
          Unfortunately, massive unemployment and wealth disparity hasn't had such a great track record in society either. Bread and circuses are part of the cost of doing business.
      • Has there EVER been a politician born that attained office that didn't thing of EVERYTHING they saw as a taxable opportunity???

        You should really read the Dictator's Handbook. There is a reason why over time politicians begin to take a similar shape and it has a lot more to do with how power structures are formed than politicians just randomly looking at everything and wondering how they can tax it. ISBN: 978-1610391849 Sorry to sound like an advert but it really is a good book that talks about this very thing and why it's more common than not.

    • You guys in America constantly whinge and whine about tax, but I think if you actually tried to look up the numbers, you would find that you are not even close to the top in any conceivable way. But maybe I shouldn't bee too dismissive; in Europe we pay far more in tax, but I think we have reason to feel that we get more back as well, such as universal, public health care and free education - in some countries even up to a masters degree or PhD.

  • What is a "Robot?" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 02, 2017 @04:43PM (#54343561)

    Traffic lights? Cellular Phones? Urinals? Where does it begin or end?

    • Traffic lights? Cellular Phones? Urinals? Where does it begin or end?

      That's the question. Define exactly which machines will be taxed, and how you intend to calculate the amount, then propose a tax. Till then its just talk.

      Of course, we should tax the wealthy robots the most.

    • by Holi ( 250190 )
      neither one of those things could ever classify as a robot. No moving parts in either. 1 it is a machine, neither a light nor a cell phone can be considered machines.

      "an apparatus using or applying mechanical power and having several parts, each with a definite function and together performing a particular task."
      • by Holi ( 250190 )
        Though to be honest, if you had a single light always on and mechanical flaps that raised and lowered to block color filters (red yellow green), I guess then a traffic light could meet the definition, but that sounds incredibly inefficient.
        • by mysidia ( 191772 )

          Though to be honest, if you had a single light always on and mechanical flaps that raised and lowered to block color filters

          Traffic lights, at least traditional ones, do have a mechanical timing mechanism which is a constantly rotating gear that additional modules are inserted containing a mechanical device to select which lighting circuit will be enabled.

      • by Doke ( 23992 )
        What about an ordering kiosk in McDonalds that replaced a register clerk? What about AI call center "bots" who replace human operators? The tax seems intended to protect human worker's jobs. Would the tax cover such non-moving devices, when they displace a human? Will a tax like this cause businesses in San Francisco to fall further behind ones in less restrictive locations, and eventually go bankrupt?
      • by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2017 @05:38PM (#54344027)

        "an apparatus using or applying mechanical power and having several parts, each with a definite function and together performing a particular task."

        So a Centrifugal governor [wikipedia.org]? Stealing jobs of engineers since 1788.

        The hydraulics of a tractor plow? I demand my son a be able to have the opportunity to manually put all of those plows in the ground [youtube.com].

        How many more people could be employed if we rid ourselves of the water wheel? [wikipedia.org] I demand future generations have the opportunity to walk in a circle milling our grain.

      • neither one of those things could ever classify as a robot. No moving parts in either. 1 it is a machine, neither a light nor a cell phone can be considered machines.

        Yet look at how many jobs traffic lights stole from honest humans. There used to be a traffic policeman at every major intersection directing traffic. All those jobs were lost to automation just as surely as a housekeeper replaced by a hotel's towel delivery robot.

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      A robot is a machine that can be programmed to perform a variety of complex sequences of actions (e.g. an industrial robot in a car factory). This is in contrast to a machine performs a complex action for which it is mechanically specialized (e.g. a bottling machine at a brewery).

      Naturally there is no perfectly sharp dividing line between the two. For example an industrial robot may have specialized attachments which allow it to weld, or to inspect welds for that matter. A bottling machine may be control

      • A robot is a machine that can be programmed to perform a variety of complex sequences of actions (e.g. an industrial robot in a car factory). This is in contrast to a machine performs a complex action for which it is mechanically specialized (e.g. a bottling machine at a brewery).

        So all those specialized welding robots aren't really robots? Same with all those plasma and laser metal cutters?

        • by hey! ( 33014 )

          If it could only perform a specific sequences of welding operations, I wouldn't count it as robot.

          • It's obviously reprogrammable to perform welds in different positions, duh! t's not like they're built to just weld one make and model of car in an auto factory. It's generally accepted that robotic welders ARE robots, so your definition is definitely not shared by the majority.
            • It's obviously reprogrammable to perform welds in different positions, duh!

              In order to be a robot, something has to make "its own" decisions. Yes, defined by programming, but onboard programming. If the machine has some kind of sensor on it, and makes decisions based on the sensor input without phoning some authority to ask it what to do, then it is a robot. A contact kill switch doesn't make something a robot, either, but if it's got a camera and can recognize a foreign object (or human) in the operating area and decide not to move until the way is clear, then it's a robot, becau

    • Exactly. Most likely San Francisco has no jobs that would be replaced by things that look like 'robots.' Those are for manufacturing jobs.

      In San Francisco, jobs will merely be replaced by automation. Not robots. For that matter, this is merely an attempt by a politician to raise her profile after losing a bitter election last cycle.
      • Most likely San Francisco has no jobs that would be replaced by things that look like 'robots.' Those are for manufacturing jobs.

        Those are the jobs which will be replaced first, but there are a number of service jobs which are also going to go away. A number of cashier and counterperson jobs are probably about to vanish. Most fast food jobs are going away. Taxi drivers are about to become a thing of the past; I've only ever experienced crappy ones in SF so I'm not going to cry any tears for them, but that's a significant number of jobs. Many delivery jobs are about to go away, too.

        It's also worth noticing that there are actually plen

        • You just have to call it a computer, not a robot, and problem solved. Loophole achieved.
        • Your last two sentences are really good though. I should check it out I have no idea what they are doing.
        • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

          Taxi drivers are about to become a thing of the past...

          Only if "about to" means "before our sun goes nova".

          • 5 years dude. Probably less. You've got not one but about ten of the biggest, best-resourced tech companies all heavily investing in products to achieve that. Do you seriously think all those people - already billionaires because of knowing what to invest in when - are putting their money into a pipe dream that will never pan out - it's happened on occasion in the past, but it's hardly the norm. These people are rich because they are good at spotting the next big thing and investing early. Or do you really

    • At the CPU.
    • a Robot, for tax purposes, is a machine used to produce goods or provide services. This means an ATM is a robot and a urinal isn't.

      That's why this idea is getting traction. It's hard to understand why you would rob peter to pay paul and why wealth redistribution is a positive good. It's easy to understand "Tax the robots that took my jerb!". You want this, because the alternative is dystopia. Hell, we don't even have to question that. Go read up on what happened during the industrial revolution. There w
  • but we tax personal income, which will go away, so some replacement tax has to pay for it.

    Defining "robot" is going to be the (really) tricky part.

    • but we tax personal income, which will go away, so some replacement tax has to pay for it.

      So tax corporate incomes. If they can't be profitable while paying taxes, someone else should get a chance to be more efficient. Tax personal incomes which are well over the median and tax all corporate incomes, done and done. There's no need to dick around with robot taxes.

    • by Kiuas ( 1084567 )

      but we tax personal income, which will go away, so some replacement tax has to pay for it.

      Indeed. The core problem brought by increasing automation (which is inevitable) is that the marginal utility of labor decreases.

      However taxing 'robots' to solve this seems unwise. Robotics and machine learning powered automation increase efficiency, allowing higher productivity, As the companies' labor cost decline as a result, their profits can be taxed more without the overall tax burden on them increasing (as you're

  • I dislike the idea of a "robot tax", it seems counterproductive. If robots make business more efficient and more profitable than human employees do, then the solution to that is to tax the resultant company profits and invest those tax dollars wherever needed. Specifically taxing the use of robots forces needless inefficiency and thus brings in less tax revenue while preventing some types of businesses from being profitable / developing at all. It also needlessly forces people to work jobs that are so mind-

    • or you could have a rational capital gains tax...

      BWAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHA
      Seriously, this is going to end in blood. They're already trying to kill off the poor. You think the latest thing with the oxy epidemic killing off poor formerly middle-class white people is a coincidence?
      • Really? You think oxy is plan?

        It's a pretty effing poor plan from your perspective. You must think crack was created and spread by the US government as well.
      • or you could have a rational capital gains tax...

        The problem is capital gains taxes become a race to the bottom. If we up our capital gains tax, investors will just move their money overseas where other countries who are happy to undercut the US.

        There's a reason most tech companies are "Irish" corporations.

        • The problem is capital gains taxes become a race to the bottom.

          ...just like everything else in capitalism.

    • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2017 @05:06PM (#54343799)
      we've got a very regressive tax system. Instead of demanding that get fixed we just keep demanding more tax breaks. The tax breaks go to the very rich, gov'ts run out of money & can't raise taxes on the rich so they raise taxes on the poor through new regressive taxes. Lather, rinse, repeat. There's a name for it. It's called "Starve the Beast". It means intentionally breaking the government so people lose faith in it. It's really a form of terrorism ( inciting fear for political gain, what else would you call it?) but that word is so loaded nowadays you can't use it for anything meaningful.
      • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2017 @09:57PM (#54345449)
        Though, that's the one "good thing" about the Trump plan. The tax plan reduces breaks.

        The one thing it, and every other tax plan, gets wrong is classes of income. Unearned income is taxed less than earned income.. Capital gains is a low bracket. And taxes on people exclude corporations, which are legally persons, except for taxing. Tax corporations under the same rules as a single filer, and you'd solve all the revenue problems of the US, though you'd also crash the economy. But setting the income tax rate to 0% for the first $100k, and 1% after, for all persons, natural and artificial, then you'd solve the revenue issues, while not taxing any one person too much. 1% tax (no exemptions) isn't too high, but apply that to artificial persons as well as natural ones, and all the problems go away, and with minimal impact on the economy (other than to boost it, as people will have more and spend more).
  • by Koreantoast ( 527520 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2017 @04:56PM (#54343701)
    While theoretically this might be a valuable way to help raise funds to support impacted low income workers, I'm skeptical that the funds raised, especially if successful, will actually go to help them. More likely than not, if San Francisco goes through with it, they'll just take the money to shore up the general tax base, enrich civil workers, or maybe a bit of pork for donors and the elite. Perhaps they'll say the money went to help an existing training center with a token set of new training manuals or something before the rest of the money is funneled to other pet projects. Then they'll go back and say they need a new tax to raise new funds. So unless they tie the launching of a specific new recurring initiative with the tax, it just feels like a money grab by the city government.
    • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

      More likely than not, if San Francisco goes through with it, they'll just take the money to shore up the general tax base, enrich civil workers, or maybe a bit of pork for donors and the elite.

      So you're saying we shouldn't tax robots because the people who the citizens of San Francisco elected cannot be trusted to spend the money wisely.

    • Yes, fixing the problems Automation causes is hard. But that doesn't mean you give up. If it was easy we wouldn't be freaking out about it.

      After you get the money you have to put honest people in charge of it and kick them out if they become dishonest. Civilization isn't a one and done. There are no guiding principles that will lead to a decent society. You have to keep working at it non stop until the day you die.
  • A "robot tax" solves nothing. We need to find a way to move away from our dependence on currency to survive. Automation is a good thing that can help us *all* lead better, more fulfilling lives, but only if we work to put in places changes to end this horrible capitalist system that ties your entire identity to your job. What good is a robot tax going to do when *all* jobs are run by robots? That wouldn't even make any sense. The key here is finding a way to support each other and make sure that the am

  • NOT tax "robots" and let the markets evolve with changing technology.

    People out of work will find new jobs, or new places to live that aren't as over-priced as SF.
    Companies will find the right balance of automation and the human touch in customer-facing positions.
    And the government will avoid yet another lurch into Venezualan socialism by promising everything to everyone at the expense of Those People.
    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      There is no reason not to tax robots. They are property used in a commercial endeavor. Since less people working will cut tax revenue it's a logical way of replacing that revenue.

    • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
      A revenue tax would tax the robots. In fact, a flat tax of 3% of revenue on all legal persons would result in a large decrease in taxes for most people, and would effectively tax robots. It'd fully fund universal health care, which is cheaper than subsidized insurance plans, and fund a UBI as well. Though, it would kick off a 5 year recession before 20 years of unprecedented growth. So it'll never happen.
    • during the industrial revolution. There was decades of misery, poverty and wars while technology caught up. Christ, did you forget WWI & II? You really think we fought those wars because somebody offed a Duke?

      As for Venezuela, they're a single product economy (oil) in free fall because the Saudis dropped a shit ton of the stuff to kill US Shale. In any sane world the rest of the planet would bail them out until the price of oil rebounded instead of gleefully reveling in their misfortune.

      I got a
    • People out of work will find new jobs, or new places to live that aren't as over-priced as SF.

      Has it occurred to you that there are people in this world that simply don't have the mental or physical capability to compete with a robot? There is a very real risk that only the most intelligent (or connected) members of society will be able to find a job in the future. What happens to everyone else? Do they starve?

  • An excise tax on goods produced based on their transfer though the supply chain (a value-added tax) makes more sense because it is easily measured, and imported goods can't escape it. For example, an importer will pay VAT on the total cost minus credits for any VAT the foreign manufacturer paid to the importing country for parts made in the importing country.
  • The tax should be a re-vamp of the corporate tax. Why tax "people" if a corporation can automatedly create infinite goods. The "fix" isn't to tax the robots that work for corporations. The fix is to tax the revenue of corporations. 1% revenue tax on corporations will eliminate the need for all other taxes, and be clear, fair and direct. Though, in practice, I think we should keep a range of taxes, to collect from those most able to pay (and prevent tax holes)
  • First, robots will not be stealing jobs, tech will create more than it takes, it always does, because we filled all the "neccessary" jobs centuries ago and most current work is luxury - and humans being greedy keep expanding the luxuries we decide are 'essential' - health care is a prime example.

    That said, a robot tax is not a bad idea. It's a good way to tax the succesful businesses after they have advanced past the beginner stage and become profitable enough to automate.

    Of course the real question is wha

    • First, robots will not be stealing jobs, tech will create more than it takes...

      Tell that to the eight hundred or so data entry clerks who weren't needed to scan forms or correct scan errors when the Australian Bureau of Statistics decided to do the 2016 census online. In fact, tell that to me, because I was one of them.

  • The bay area is one of the largest centers of robotic development. Companies interested in selling their robots are not gonna be cool with the loss of sales that would come with the need for their customers to pay tax on each robot. Doing such a tax on a local-government level makes zero sense, it'll just make commercial entities pull up stakes and go to a friendlier town.

    And how do you enforce this anyway? You can tax a building because it's stationary. You can tax a vehicle because it travels in public

  • Don't many countries already have a variation of this?

    Here is an oversimplified thought experiment. Currently a minority productive subset of the population supports the rest of the population; i.e. 0 to 18 years kids are supported by their parents; 67 and up people are retired; students, disabled people and those who do not work for whatever reason are all provided for by the rest of society.

    If non-human production takes over *all* jobs, automation will necessarily need to take the place of the product
  • by edi_guy ( 2225738 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2017 @06:16PM (#54344277)
    That's billion with a "B". And recall that SF only has about 800,000 residents. According to SF Chronicle, San Francisco spends more money every year than at least 10 states, including Iowa and Maine. Kim is among the worst, but every politician in SF will spend up to and even slightly more money than they can get their hands on. This is just one more source of pork barrel money for them them. It has nothing to do with robots or job losses or housing or whatever. The fact that SF is in the shape that it is in after $9 billion every year is proof of how terrible the people running the city are. Or a less charitable person might say how corrupt..
    • and vote the corrupt people out. And if you're not in SF vote in your local elections. You're giving up way too easy. The solution isn't to give up and let the chips fall were they may. That's been tried (Industrial Revolution) and it didn't end well. Luddites weren't just anti-tech noobs. They were people facing starvation when their livelihoods went away. Where do you think all those wars came from? We didn't fight 'em just because somebody offed a Duke.
  • One problem with taxing a robot is 'how much to charge?'. There is a similar challenge in the auto repair industry: how much to charge for ... changing a headlamp in a 2015 Toyota Corolla, for example. The answer is a bit complicated. There are books that document every possible repair procedure and the average time of each repair. If the headlamp is a 15 minute job then the customer will be charged for 15 minutes' labor, regardless of the actual time the mechanic takes.

    When a robot takes a human task, that

    • by djinn6 ( 1868030 )

      When a robot takes a human task, that human task should be measured similarly- how long would an average human take to do the job, and what pay grade would have applied? Then we know the value of the work, and the cost in human displacement, and we have a basis for taxing the robot.

      And what about the work a human cannot do? Like searching a billion webpages for the one page you're looking for in less than a second? Or applying 50,000 tons of pressure to a piece of metal to bend it into shape?

      A librarian can only sift through a dozen webpages every minute. If the government charged the tax based on how long a human takes to do the work, you'd be paying thousands of dollars in taxes each time you visit Google.

  • by kaatochacha ( 651922 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2017 @06:27PM (#54344353)

    A tax on San Francisco Politicians?

  • by k6mfw ( 1182893 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2017 @06:38PM (#54344443)

    Other day on PBS a panel discussion or the Newshour with presenters talking about political situations, one said something like "Nobody is addressing the 800 lbs gorilla that is automation which is expected to reduce large numbers of jobs in retail, insurance, groceries, etc. in the next 10 to 20 years."

    Which technological changes, people and the politicians they elect tend to react to the results of those changes rather than dealing with implementation. Also much of the wealth in SF bay area is difficult to tax, so go after easy stuff like sales tax and gas tax. I'm not sure how you would tax a robot, first have to define a robot (Roombas, traffic lights, urinals?), is the robot doing revenue producing work or some thing else not financially related?

  • Do you know what else, besides robots, displaces humans?

    Other humans.

    "Kill them all," is what the robot economist just heard Jane Kim say is desired. You were so worried about robots stealing your job, that you just authorized the production of Terminators.

  • by sheramil ( 921315 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2017 @10:53PM (#54345659)

    This could work. We'd need some form of Great Convention that carefully describes the limits of what is and what isn't a robot - is an alarm clock a robot? Is a washing machine? How about a lawn sprinkler system with a timer? Elevators? Coffee Machines? Snack dispensers? How much automation is permitted in factory machinery? Can this process be regulated by a sensor and a timer, or is that a robot too? Do they have to hire a guy with an egg-timer to stand there and throw a lever instead?

    Having made this distinction, businesses will then crowd up against either side of this imaginary barrier; on one side, engineers simplifying systems until they are no longer sufficiently robotic to be taxed, and on the other side Servok craftsmen pushing the limits of the Great Convention up to where their mechanisms might be taxed. There would be jobs for assessors, there would be jobs for screaming torch-bearing mobs chanting "THOU SHALT NOT BUILD A MACHINE IN THE LIKENESS OF THE HUMAN SOUL!" as they drag computers and programmers alike from their offices and destroy them.

    It might not make a great novel in itself, but it'd be good background material for one.

  • Yes we are seeing a huge change that will require us to revamp our entire social and economic systems which will cause drama and unrest but the worst thing in the world is to try to make it fit into an old fashioned world model. That is the path to disaster. Now the game has changed. Try to build and export a product while taxing your robots and automation and you will fall flat on your face as other nations will not tax their machines at all. Resistance is futile is no longer a joke. The robots ar
    • Think for a moment about machines that can build a $15,000 dollar home that is superior to a $100,000 dollar home.

      I've thought for a moment, and I can't quite imagine that happening. I can imagine a $15k home which is superior to a typical $100k home, using alternative construction, but I can't see how it's going to become cost-effective to have one machine construct it.

  • A coffee machine also makes coffee automatically even though a long time ago we had a coffee-person for that, so when is it a robot and when is it just an automated appliance?
  • Surely it'd just be simpler to raise the level of corporation tax? More robots = more profitability = more tax = more social provision for those who are rendered unemployed by the intransigent march of future. No need to define what a robot is. Just pay more damned tax!

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