Robot Tax - Now

Discussion in 'Markets & Economies' started by Holdfast, Mar 16, 2017.

  1. Big A.D.

    Big A.D. Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    Banning the technology to protect jobs isn't a huge problem because it simply won't work.

    Figuring out how to rearrange the social order to deal with hundreds of millions of surplus humans is where it'll get tricky.
     
  2. Naphthalene Man

    Naphthalene Man Active Member Silver Stacker

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    What about a tax on self serve machine use... Lets keep the teenagers employed...
    :)
     
  3. Jislizard

    Jislizard Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    We will be fine, new technology takes a long time to implement, sail boats were still in use long after the invention of steam ships.

    If you already own a sail boat you aren't just going to dump it and buy a steam ship because it goes a bit faster. You might replace the sailboat when it wears out in 40 years time and then get a steam boat but by then you have had forty years to get used to the idea.
    Modern technology is getting faster but it is still going to be expensive to buy a self driving delivery lorry and the early adopters are going to have to deal with a lot of regulations and teething problems. Many people will hold off until the technology is proven.

    Of course, all it needs is the big supermarkets, big banks and big companies like Amazon to risk a ton of cash an implement these cost and labour saving technologies and all the remaining small businesses will disappear anyway, won't just be the jobs going it will be the companies as well.
     
  4. JulieW

    JulieW Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    I think they AND we, are paying a very high tax in the training ground and conditioning for larceny provided by their serve yourself machines.
     
  5. mmm....shiney!

    mmm....shiney! Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    No one can figure it out because no one can figure it out. So best not to try at all. At best it's pointless whilst at worst we just screw things up for countless thousands of people, just look at the 20th and 21st centuries for evidence of the failure of central planning. Society stands the best chance of adapting to technological change by not interfering in the continuing evolution of the division of labor, in other words, attempts at centrally planning the "social order" will result in worse outcomes than if individuals were left free to behave naturally, ie economic beings.
     
  6. Big A.D.

    Big A.D. Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    I meant it's more about how society deals with the issues as opposed to government.

    The technology will improve and it will put people out of work. The industrial revolution displaced the farmers of the agrarian age and the information age is displacing the factory workers of the industrial period. It isn't necessarily a bad thing either because, as you say, we developed and our living standards improved dramatically.

    Last time around people were able to upskill and get better jobs, but this time there's no immediately obvious area where people can do the same thing.

    It's easy to just say "we'll adapt", but how? As in, what are people supposed to do when there's no need for labor and limited need for knowledge and services? What opportunities will there be for people? Will populations decrease because there's no way for people to financially support children, or will populations increase because we'll change the economic order since the technology allows us to all have a high quality of life regardless of whether we work or not?
     
  7. Ipv6Ready

    Ipv6Ready Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    The way I see it... this is a storm in a teacup. It is much like we dont have a pool typist or million people working in the mines and agriculture.

    The world evolves, jobs changes, in each one of the generational changes, some earned a lot, some earned less. Many worked more hours and some didn't work at all.

    Our ancestors worked 7 days a week
    Our forefathers worked 6 days a week
    Our parent (us and our kids), worked 5 days a week
    Our grand kids will work 4 days a week
    Our great grand kids will work 3 days weeks and so on.

    Maybe working four, three or two days, will mean we earn less in total, but with more and more machines and robots doing our work, cost of everything will become lower allowing us to do more.

    Therefore end of the day, it is status quo.
     
  8. mmm....shiney!

    mmm....shiney! Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    I can't answer your questions Big A.D. All I can say is that we will stand a better chance if we don't erect barriers to entrepreneurial vision and risk, and that doesn't mean helping them, it just means getting out of their way and letting them do what they think may be profitable, because if it's profitable, it probably meets a great deal of needs.
     
  9. wrcmad

    wrcmad Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    Big assumption that that'll happen.
    Can't see it in my lifetime.
     
  10. Big A.D.

    Big A.D. Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    Well, that's where we disagree: the are plenty of things you can do to make a profit and not all of them are socially acceptable.

    We define those things by expressing our values because what might seem okay now might well have very serious repercussions down the track, particularly since "currently profitable" and "not a nice situation to find ourselves in" are two very different things.

    If the whole concept of profit is based on a capitalist system being the best way of managing scarce resources (and let's assume it is), what happens if resources are no longer scarce?

    More specifically, what if everybody could sit around drinking those margaritas because money has become an anachronism but instead we have a handful of uber-rich entrepreneur elites and millions of people living in poverty because work is still the way people are expected to earn money but all the work is being done by robots and AIs? I'm not saying there would need to be a neo-Luddite revolution to smash all the robots, just that we'll need to think about what our values are because a lot of what we do every day is going to become redundant.
     
  11. mmm....shiney!

    mmm....shiney! Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    What is socially acceptable is largely determined by the objective nature of morality ie a set of core common principles or truths that are held universally. These principles are protected and upheld by law (or at least should be). What you are alluding to is that in the drive to gain reward by meeting the needs of individuals (profit), entrepreneurs and business people may engage in activities that some would consider unacceptable. Well so what? As long as those entrepreneurs or business people don't cross the line and transgress the universal truths then as value is subjective, it's an entirely personal decision whether someone engages in what others would consider socially unacceptable practices or not. Therefore it's a non-issue.

    Under such a system, resources that are no longer scarce would command little value. If they were a key ingredient in whatever process is involved in meeting the needs of individuals, their cost would reflect their abundance. In your scenario, if labour were truly abundant and no longer scarce, then the cost of labour would be negligible and people would be working for a pittance.

    Before accepting your scenario as plausible though, you'd firstly have to ask how we arrived at having a handful of elite mega-rich in the first place with the will and capacity to control the lives of others, and secondly, why would these elite mega-rich bother to continue using robots if the cost of labour was so cheap? Or forced? :/

    Seriously, anyone can invent any possible dystopian future, after all it requires very little imagination to imagine bogey men and bunyips lurking around every corner or waterhole. Entrepreneurial imagination on the other hand is not shared so broadly in the community. It needs to dreamed and practised unhindered and it should be profited from.
     
  12. bordsilver

    bordsilver Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    Yawn. How many times have we had variants of this thread?

    From two years ago for example:

     
  13. bordsilver

    bordsilver Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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  14. bordsilver

    bordsilver Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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  15. Big A.D.

    Big A.D. Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    It's not a non-issue because, like I said above, profit now isn't the ultimate predictor of whether we get the best outcome.

    For example, is it moral to develop a machine that will put a hundred million people out of work?

    Who cares. It'll happen anyway. And value is subjective. Fine.

    What do you do with a hundred million people who suddenly find themselves out of a job though? Some can re-train for something else (but some can't) and then someone else invests another machine that makes the job they're re-training for redundant and they're back at square one again. What are they supposed to live on in the mean time? How to they obtain food and shelter?

    The change is inevitable, but what happens if it occurs too fast for society to keep up with? If every entrepreneur out there is working as hard as they can to automate one little particular thing that will make them themselves very rich there's going to be a compounding effect of great new technology being used to make even greater new technology and so on. We know how this goes: everything ticks along slowly for a while and then there's a point of critical mass and everything just rockets along.

    So how to we, as a society, manage the change so there aren't as many unwanted side effects (like millions of hungry surplus workers living on the streets)? A robot tax? Progressively fewer "standard" working hours? Universal incomes?

    Sipping the margaritas while robots do the work sounds fine to me. Not having riots and wars first would be nice.

    Exactly. Or, alternatively, money stops being a good reflection of perceived value since not enough people have enough of it for it to mean much.

    Maybe.

    Because we thought - at the time - giving entrepreneurs free reign to make profits was the only way technology would ever advance, that technological advances are always a good thing and that thinking about the future was a waste of time because, hey, who knows what will happen?

    Because once the robots are there, they're there. They do the job they were designed to do and dealing with human workers is a pain in the arse (they complain, they want things, they need lunch and toilet breaks, they have ideas that mess with the smooth running of the business, etc.)

    Entrepreneurial imagination may not be such a common trait now, but what happens when an entrepreneur develops an entrepreneurial AI? Then it will be common. Or rather, there will be one instance of it, but it will have access to so much knowledge that it will be able to replace every human entrepreneur. Seriously, it's not a huge stretch. First you develop an "intelligence" that can analyze weather data and make accurate predictions, then you plug it into the stock market and get it to trade wheat futures and then you just keep going to the next logical step in development again and again and again.

    Dystopian futures are what science fiction authors write about to remind us that we need to think about our choices before things go horribly wrong.
     
  16. mmm....shiney!

    mmm....shiney! Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    The short economic response: losses (the only alternative to profit) don't lead to better outcomes.

    The longer philosophical response: disputing the validity of choices that individuals make that leads to profitable entrepreneurial activity is a bit arrogant.

    It's neither moral nor immoral. But I would consider the manufacture of such a machine to be ethical.

    Not trying to be rude, but the rest of your post is just your dystopian imagination echoing again. The issues raised have been addressed. With one exception:

    Actually they do it for profit. :cool:
     
  17. Big A.D.

    Big A.D. Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    Profits are only possible if you do something. If you do nothing, you simply don't make a profit and failing to profit doesn't imply that you incur a loss.

    This keeps coming up and we can keep going back to why it's more profitable for an "entrepreneur" to dump their waste in a river (or the atmosphere) than dispose of it at a cost commensurate with how much harm it actually causes to other people.

    It's not arrogant at all to point out that some courses of action are incredibly stupid, even if they happen to make a few people rich.

    No, they haven't. Hence the discussion about how to manage the transition from a human-centric labor force to a machine-centric one.

    George Orwell purposely lived a frugal life (bordering on poverty) both before and after publishing Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty Four and Aldous Huxley made way more money doctoring scripts for Hollywood movies than he ever did from publishing his science fiction works.

    Some authors write for money, some write because they have something to say.
     
  18. mmm....shiney!

    mmm....shiney! Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    If we're talking about achieving desirable outcomes, then "doing nothing" is not going to get us there.

    It does keep coming up and it mainly keeps coming up because opponents of free-market policies conflate political power with economic power.

    https://forums.silverstackers.com/topic-62314-anything-that-s-peaceful.html

    https://forums.silverstackers.com/topic-71321-free-market-environmentalism.html

    https://forums.silverstackers.com/topic-82517-ten-conservative-principles.html

    It's arrogant if you think others should seek to satisfy their needs or desires in a manner that meets with your approval.

    Your definition of profit is too narrow. Profit is an increase in happiness or achievement of purpose. It is not just about money.

    The whole argument of advocates of central planning rests upon the fundamental concept that we can plan an outcome or future that meets the needs of everyone. As I've posted countless times in the past, it is not possible for any individual to plan an outcome or future that meets every known or unknown need or desire that they may currently or possibly possess, so why on Earth do they persist with the notion that a whole society or a select group of individuals can plan a course of action that will meet the future known or unknown needs or desires that millions of individuals (most of whom have never met each other) currently or possibly may possess? The answer is, they can't.

    It is far better to let individuals apply their own means to achieve their own ends, and in the process, let entrepreneurs profit from their services. Because value is subjective.

    So back to robots. Profit ensures the most desirable outcomes because the only way someone profits is by meeting the needs or desires of individuals. Leave the future of society to those who have the vision to meet the needs and desires of individuals, and profit in the process.

    @gingham, going to add anything to this debate?
     
  19. Big A.D.

    Big A.D. Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    Sometimes doing nothing is better than doing something, and doing something will produce an outcome, but whether it's desirable or not isn't knowable until after it's been done.

    Just because one entrepreneur reckons the outcome of what they're doing will be a desirable one doesn't mean they're right. The Nobel Prizes are some of the most prestigious international awards and their creation is testament to the fact that, sometimes, on reflection, entrepreneurs get it wrong even by their own standards.

    No, some of us just recognize government as a legitimate form for the expression of power.

    I'm not the sole arbiter of what's acceptable behavior within society. We share the world with other people and they have a right to express their wishes on how society functions. Having money gets you a lot, but it shouldn't get you everything.

    Exactly, which is why economic activity isn't the most important aspect of civilization and why privately owned businesses aren't always the best vehicles for achieving it's potential.

    And that's without even going into the fact that our money is completely made up.

    So why do you have any confidence that an given individual (or group) won't invent something, either by themselves or collectively that makes everyone materially worse off?

    You honestly don't see any benefit in anyone trying to look at the big picture and make inferences about how lots of individual activities might affect society? If one dedicated programmer can destroy a million jobs, okay fine, but there's only so many times that can happen in a short period of time before you get a lot of people who can't adapt fast enough.

    And no, I don't believe everything can be planned down to the very last detail now, but unless we collectively agree on some general principles for how we'd like the world to be, those artificial intelligences will start producing some nasty outcomes when they start getting really good at planning things down to the very last detail.

    Again, individuals do make objectively bad choices. I've made plenty.

    I'm not entirely sure how I feel about robots removing the need for me to make choices in the first place.
     
  20. mmm....shiney!

    mmm....shiney! Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    Just briefly, this thread is getting cluttered and we've had these discussions about legitimate force/free markets before, so I've responded to only a portion of your text. :)

    I agree 110%, hence why the role of profit is the key to ensuring that individuals get the best outcomes.

    And we enter the minefield that is values again. It's not for you nor anyone else to determine on behalf of another what constitutes "everything", nor how much of "something" others are entitled to trade for.

    Economic activity is the core fundamental of human society. We are economic beings, civilisation arises from our economic activity. To quote:

    https://www.reddit.com/r/austrian_economics/

    Let the free market and profit be the decider. In a free market, only those groups or individuals that contribute to meeting the needs and desires of individuals will succeed. Those that make everyone worse off will perish.

    And lastly, any possible threats posed by robots or AIs to humanity are beyond my interest in economics and my capacity to debate, I'll leave it to the experts to arrive at a solution that maximises the outcomes for all individuals.
     

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