Author Topic: Taxation of Robots  (Read 26653 times)

Seriati

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #50 on: March 01, 2017, 04:00:11 PM »
Seriati, some of your objections are mechanical ones, meaning that you believe some result will occur from a UBI and I think otherwise. There's not really any further we can explore that one, especially since predictive economics theory is insufficient to 'solve' such things to any degree of satisfaction. I guess I'll have to leave that part of it alone and we'll agree to disagree.

Agreed, except I'd like to hear an explanation for why you think currency can be manipulated without consequence.  Every real life example that I've seen has these types of adverse consequences, unless, like I said its supported by outside capital (ie there is no internal funding version that works).

Quote
A slightly more interesting aspect to our disagreement here seems to be a premise that you're tacitly employing, which is that everything is owned by someone, and therefore the only way to obtain anything at all - finished goods or even natural resources - is by getting them from someone. That is a fascinating premise, and actually I suspect it's one shared by many proponents of capitalism. I also think it's highly problematic once inspected carefully.

I don't think its a "premise" its a factual reality.  I take your point about resources that have been nationalized (uranium, federal and state lands, radio waves) or that arguably have never been allocated at all (Antartica, neutral Ocean, the Moon, the deep crust and beyond) may be available for such a use.  But virtually all land and near surface resources are currently owned by someone, and the Constitution limits your ability to take those resources (even if you disagree with how they were distributed) without just compensation.

Quote
You see, since finished goods are obviously made by someone at the moment it stands to reason that the only 'fair' way to deal with them is through trade. One important thing to note here is that it won't always be the case that it requires human effort to produce goods, and so this part of the premise is not intrinsically true but only has been true so far due to technological limitations. If a 'production robot' could take raw materials and produce goods from them that element of the premise would become potentially obsolete.

The key word there is "take".  Yes, if production robots take raw materials from their current owners then how you allocate the "stolen" resources has been divorced from the ownership of the humans involved.

It doesn't matter if a human is involved, labor is a current value that's added to products, but it's not remotely the only value.  In this robot future the real value will be in resources.  Which is why I pointed out that you would have to nationalize those resources to get to where you are going.

Quote
You might argue that someone still owns the robot, and even this would be a shortsighted objection. I could create a group of intelligent robots, for instance, and 'donate them' to the community to produce as much, say, bread, as anyone wanted to eat as long as wheat was provided in some way.

Sure you could, so long as you take or donate the wheat.  Of course, nothing is stopping you from donating all those goods today, so why do we have this problem?  You seem to be envisioning a self replicating supply of goods, but that violates basic physical law.  Goods are nothing but transmutation of other goods and resources.

Quote
You might ask how the wheat is gotten, and a similar answer could be provided.

It really could not.  At some point you have to feed starter goods into the system, if you don't own that good you have to buy it or take it.  For the system to continue to perpetuate (particularly since you're not exchanging anything of value for the goods you give away) where do you get such starter goods other than by taking them?

Quote
At first glance it appears to be 'obvious' that land is owned, and that whomever owns it owns what's on it or in it, and can sell it to others; this would include oil, a mine, or whatever else. And yet I don't actually think this should be so obvious at all; it actually strikes me as perverse.

What you're suggesting is tantamount to the mass nationalization that you said the "communists" did that cause them to fail.  We do in fact have property  rights, feeling that this is a perverse situation is not an actual argument.  Explain why its okay to take the property, or how you intend to compensate for it.

You keep glossing over the only material point to your plan.  I agree with you, if you take things from people you'll be able to hand out what you take, I just think its a net loss game (not a zero sum game) to follow that policy, and that's largely played out everywhere its been tried.

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #51 on: March 01, 2017, 04:31:19 PM »
Agreed, except I'd like to hear an explanation for why you think currency can be manipulated without consequence.  Every real life example that I've seen has these types of adverse consequences, unless, like I said its supported by outside capital (ie there is no internal funding version that works).

Fundamentally this is an issue of managing the money supply. On its face I'm not in favor of indefinitely expanding the money supply because this effectively does simply redistribute wealth. It's what's going on right now, although to a smaller extent than would happen with a UBI done improperly. So the question boils down to - how to manage the money supply such that cash ends up in consumers' pockets but the supply itself doesn't perpetually balloon and just increase the rate of inflation. In the short term I think this would require a band-aid fix involving the Fed and government effecting a constriction of the money supply to mostly offset the amount pumped into it by the UBI. This would create a net shift in the flow of funds available, which is not quite the same as a redistribution. If you think of it in terms of fluid dynamics, it would be like altering the currents while keeping roughly the same net amount of fluid. However in the long term I envision currency working differently than it does now, and the question of managing the total money supply would be best managed by altering how credit is calculated. I could get into this but it's a bit lengthy...

Quote
What you're suggesting is tantamount to the mass nationalization that you said the "communists" did that cause them to fail.  We do in fact have property  rights, feeling that this is a perverse situation is not an actual argument.  Explain why its okay to take the property, or how you intend to compensate for it.

You keep glossing over the only material point to your plan.  I agree with you, if you take things from people you'll be able to hand out what you take, I just think its a net loss game (not a zero sum game) to follow that policy, and that's largely played out everywhere its been tried.

Sooner or later the question of 'nationalization' will have to be reconsidered, in my opinion. But the difficult word here is 'nationalized', because there are certain connotations to that word that have always been true that I don't think have to be true. One inherent problem in nationalizing anything has always been the relationship between the government and the people. There is a conflict of interest there which leads to inescapable difficulties, even setting aside the tendency for government to be incompetent, which is a major issue unto itself. The conflict lies in areas such as politics, where parties vie for power independently of the trust in them to work for the country; it lies in bureaucratic organizations and their invariable natural tendency towards aggrandizing their power and resources; it lies in the niches of power that get entrenched in the flow of resources, that no one in those positions wants to let go of; and it lies in conflicts of interest with private parties that have agreements with members of government (like military contractors, for instance).

So to all these points I will say that prior to government being able to function properly these conflicts of interest have to be removed. At present I think the first step for that to happen is campaign finance reform. Down the line I would like to think that government will morph into more of clearinghouse for private interactions, rather than a party of interest of its own that pursues its own agendas. In that utopian fantasy there would be potential for a lot of things to get done well that at present are logistically possible but can't happen for various reasons. I think it will eventually get there despite our best efforts to be political Luddites, and mostly it will get there because technology will force the issue and things will just change. 'Nationalization' will hopefully eventually mean 'no one owns this', as opposed to 'Big Brother has seized it and will do with it as it pleases.' Right now I would share your concern about nationalizing things as the term has been used in the past. But rather than wondering what I think could happen if things are conducted badly going forward, my view is simply that this is going to have to happen eventually. I don't see a future continuing along the lines we've been operating for the last while. The Ferengi in Star Trek are a sort of pastiche of how bizarre and non-functional it would be to forcibly maintain a capitalistic society in a technological future. They are portrayed as a sort of dystopia, if you will, with comedy serving to illustrate how bad it would be.

Seriati

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #52 on: March 01, 2017, 04:40:55 PM »
So let me get this straight, you are postulating a future where the government has virtual control and ownership of all resources and their allocation, but where it is less controlling?  Can you give any example where that has occurred?

TheDeamon

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #53 on: March 01, 2017, 09:43:23 PM »
You see, since finished goods are obviously made by someone at the moment it stands to reason that the only 'fair' way to deal with them is through trade. One important thing to note here is that it won't always be the case that it requires human effort to produce goods, and so this part of the premise is not intrinsically true but only has been true so far due to technological limitations. If a 'production robot' could take raw materials and produce goods from them that element of the premise would become potentially obsolete.

The key word there is "take".  Yes, if production robots take raw materials from their current owners then how you allocate the "stolen" resources has been divorced from the ownership of the humans involved.

That becomes a question of what kind of raw materials are being taken, and how much quantity wise.

Much of the lumber(but not all of it) harvested today is harvested from Government owned land, be it the Federal Government of the United States, a State Government, or "The Crown" in the case of Canada for example. So in that respect, what do you say to the prospect that the government could eventually shut down virtually all human operated logging operations and either then proceeds to harvest that lumber with Government robotic systems, or continues to allow private/third parties to do the harvesting, but with a provision that __% of the harvested material is going to be turned over "for government use?"

They didn't TAKE any land away from anybody which it hadn't already been taken from(or prevented from being transferred to), all they did was change the nature of the contractual relationship for third parties to gain access to material resources that lie "on Government Land."

Comparable situation with a number of mining claims, many of may be a bit more economical in a potential future robotic mining scenario vs human miners. As the robots don't need to breath oxygen, aren't going to be worried about build ups of certain gasses that are toxic to humans, and robots aren't constrained to a human form factor. They also don't need to take breaks. Granted, putting a robot on a seam of a valuable resource that creates 100 units of value per hour vs putting it somewhere else where it could be doing 1000 units of value is another argument, but if the robotic resources are available... (and it would have cost 150 units of value per hour to have a human do the same work...)

But then we also get to oil and natural gas, not just rare earths, coal, phosphate, and other precious metals. We also need to look at livestock as well, as many ranches in the west in particular maintain their business model by going with "range fed cattle" which often means putting that herd "out to feed"(graze) on Forest Service or BLM land for a not insignificant portion of the year. If we're not dealing in robots rather than cowboys, why couldn't the Government change the terms on that agreement? For that matter, even with the cowboys, offering an equivalent exchange in value would probably work fine in that respect. So now instead of paying $100,000 per unit of land, they're now instead able to provide $100,000 worth of livestock (product(s)) instead. Realistically, that could be applied to lumber and the other materials as well, as it stands today.

But where the real potential changes going forward happen is in the transportation side, where in 50 years, there may not be a human physically involved at all, aside from someone maybe sitting in an operations center potentially hundreds if not thousands of miles away.

This is where the concept of "natural rights" starts to break down and have problems. If the land belongs to no one, or everyone(in the form of "the government"), and no person is physically involved in the extraction, transportation, and/or refinement of those resources, than who exactly is "entitled" to the fruits of those labors? Far as I can tell, the only "entity" such as it is at that point, with any initial claim would be the Government, with a tertiary claim being held by anyone who had a contractual claim on those resources by way of the Government. Where once again, the Government sets the terms, and the contracting party is going to have a hard claim claiming a "natural right" to those resource above and beyond the scope of the terms agreed to within that contract, which isn't particularly natural in any respect, but is a reasonable derivative.

Quote
It doesn't matter if a human is involved, labor is a current value that's added to products, but it's not remotely the only value.  In this robot future the real value will be in resources.  Which is why I pointed out that you would have to nationalize those resources to get to where you are going.

But does a robot have a "natural right" to that which it produces? The robot's owner might be able to assert such a right, but the (simple) robot cannot. Well, at least until/unless we're dealing with self-aware AI's that is an entirely different issue. But within the context of "Natural Rights" this is where things start to break down, even for the people (like me) who advocate from that angle.

Going back to the initial ObamaCare arguments in 2008 in here, you could find me arguing that Healthcare was "not a Natural Right" because it required services to be rendered to them by another person.

In that vein, I'd agree that a UBI is not a "natural right" in any way. However, from an ethics standpoint weighing against that natural right, I'm going to look at the "hardship" imposed on other parties in order to allow a certain thing to happen. If we were talking about a 18th Century Grain farmer, we wouldn't really be having this discussion. Asking the typical 18th Century Grain farmer to turn over enough of his harvest to feed 10 people for year would have likely left them and their families destitute and starving. So against a hardship measure, that would fail. Now asking a typical farmer in 2016 to turn over enough of their harvest to feed 50 people for a year(on a balanced diet, not just bread and water), and while we're talking a VERY noticeable amount of grain, the amount of hardship induced on that particular farmer is likely to be fairly minimal.

But if you move into a realm where there is no farmer involved, but a robot instead, and we're not talking another ballgame entirely. You still get into the "natural right" of the resource owner, but I'm then going to be measuring that against the "hardship" that is incurred upon them for doing so. Yes, I know that's a slippery slope, and one where "setting the bar" on what constitutes a "hardship" would need to be carefully watched. In a general sense, I'd be inclined to say any measure that takes something that should be wildly profitable, and turns it into something that barely breaks even would certainly qualify as "a hardship."

But on the other end, I'm looking more at things like Bill Gates spending $100 compared to a brand new Kindergarden teacher spending $100. That $100 outlay for the teacher is likely to be a lot more painful than Bill Gates spending the same $100. 

Of course, such as with the "Universal Food Stamps" idea I played with earlier, if the government did "Vertically integrate" and introduced itself into the production chain directly, it would be inducing hardship quite directly on a number of companies and farms alike. ADM, Kellogs, General Mills, Kraft, etc all make a substantial portion of the revenue off of purchases made by people currently on Food Stamps. So if they all stop buying Special K, and instead start buying Government Corn Flakes, that's going to hurt Kellogs in a big way.

Which is where their preferred option would likely be to have a tax levied against either production, consumption, or income, and use that to fund the "Universal Food Stamp" program instead. So they don't have to compete against the Government, they just accept that there will be an ongoing minor financial hardship placed upon themselves and (some of) their customers.

Quote
Quote
You might argue that someone still owns the robot, and even this would be a shortsighted objection. I could create a group of intelligent robots, for instance, and 'donate them' to the community to produce as much, say, bread, as anyone wanted to eat as long as wheat was provided in some way.

Sure you could, so long as you take or donate the wheat.  Of course, nothing is stopping you from donating all those goods today, so why do we have this problem?  You seem to be envisioning a self replicating supply of goods, but that violates basic physical law.  Goods are nothing but transmutation of other goods and resources.

In a (for all intents) fully robotic supply chain, the only constraints that remains at that point is 1) Time, 2) Energy(to operate the robots), 3) Physical space and 4) Availability of raw materials(For the Robots to create product, or to service the other Robots).

Yes, we could donate a ton of grain to charity today, but it will be consumed, and then they'll need another ton of grain later on. However, if someone donated the land and the robotic resources sufficient to keep them "perpetually supplied" with 1 ton of grain, for the lifetime of the robots, they're playing a very different ball game. It also means future donors basically could either provide additional robots(for when the existing ones fail), repair parts for existing robots, or access to more (raw) resources in any of a number of forms, be it the resource itself, land, land rights, or something else.

Unlike today where you'd have to also donate money sufficient to pay for humans to oversee everything, which will always be a cash outflow.

While with the Robots, if they're productive enough, you can meet all of your charitable needs, which means you can then sell your excess on the market, creating a cash inflow, which you then use to fund your additional activities.

Quote
Quote
You might ask how the wheat is gotten, and a similar answer could be provided.

It really could not.  At some point you have to feed starter goods into the system, if you don't own that good you have to buy it or take it.  For the system to continue to perpetuate (particularly since you're not exchanging anything of value for the goods you give away) where do you get such starter goods other than by taking them?

Donors. Or land that "was already taken." (see: Government Owned Land/Resources)
« Last Edit: March 01, 2017, 09:49:13 PM by TheDeamon »

TheDrake

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #54 on: March 02, 2017, 10:16:49 AM »
Oh the humans are dead. The humans are dead. Binary solo.

010001001001111

D.W.

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #55 on: March 02, 2017, 11:30:27 AM »
Oh the humans are dead. The humans are dead. Binary solo.

010001001001111
Time to dig out that DVD I think...

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #56 on: March 02, 2017, 11:44:24 AM »
So let me get this straight, you are postulating a future where the government has virtual control and ownership of all resources and their allocation, but where it is less controlling?  Can you give any example where that has occurred?

Not really. I think it's a bit of a false binary to have to choose between a private citizen owning a tract of land (or a resource) versus the government "owning" it. But even if we go all the way and simply say the government owns a vast majority of resources, that would only be scary if the government (or a party within it) was in a position to misuse them. There would have to be controls in place to prevent possible conflicts of interest. Overall I don't think this is that hard to do; the problem is the will, not the logistics. To answer your question, this has never occurred, because so far in history government has always been a force in competition with the people, and as such was more than just an interested party. Even now in the U.S. that's true, although not as much as in a monarchy. Most of the problems in government now are, as I see it, part of the populace using the government to wage war on other parts of it (or literally, other places in the world). Take away the lever to pull in order to achieve that, problem solved. Oh, they'll fight it tooth and nail, but it's not hard to actually figure out how to do it.

TheDrake

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #57 on: March 02, 2017, 11:49:49 AM »
Quote
But even if we go all the way and simply say the government owns a vast majority of resources, that would only be scary if the government (or a party within it) was in a position to misuse them.

Yes, I too am appalled at the tyranny of the interstate highway system and the global positioning system.


Seriati

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #58 on: March 02, 2017, 11:50:47 AM »
Fenring, I don't even have a common frame of reference to discuss this.  The history of the world is replete with governments that owned all or virtually all resources, and the results usually equate to serfdom or slavery.  I'm having trouble even understanding how you could believe otherwise.

TheDeamon

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #59 on: March 02, 2017, 11:52:10 AM »
Most of the problems in government now are, as I see it, part of the populace using the government to wage war on other parts of it (or literally, other places in the world). Take away the lever to pull in order to achieve that, problem solved. Oh, they'll fight it tooth and nail, but it's not hard to actually figure out how to do it.

And let us not forget the Government Bureaucrat in all of this. It'll be a glorious day when automation and Artificial Intelligence systems start knocking on their doors more loudly. A sufficiently robust AI could probably enable the Federal Government to reduce the size of the federal workforce considerably. Of course, Bureaucracy doesn't tend to work that way, they'll be sure try to hire more humans "to provide oversight" to whatever the AI's are doing, so it'll be an interesting political battle to see play out in the years to come.

TheDeamon

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #60 on: March 02, 2017, 12:00:40 PM »
Fenring, I don't even have a common frame of reference to discuss this.  The history of the world is replete with governments that owned all or virtually all resources, and the results usually equate to serfdom or slavery.  I'm having trouble even understanding how you could believe otherwise.

If "being a serf" living in a "Star Trek world" setting of 23rd Century Earth, I think that's a serfdom I'd be reasonably ok with. Living in a decently sized home(that is well maintained), free(/plentiful) food, comprehensive (and free) medical. All the spare/free time I could possibly want, to do pretty much whatever I want within pretty much the same constraints as I have today.

If that's hell on earth, sign me up.

Historically, the technical capability didn't exist to accomplish what we're venturing into. The ability doesn't exist at present to do this in full, and Energy is the biggest and nastiest of the gate keepers we still have to address properly. But it is something that is looking to become increasingly likely we will have an answer to in the decades(not centuries) to come, so long as we don't have a full social collapse in the interim.

Edit to add: And unlike the refrain for the late 19th/early 20th Century when they thought they'd "attained mastery" of things, we know there still is a LOT of things for us to master, many of which we only are only starting to understand.

But on most of the things being spoken to directly in this thread, these things are no longer "Theory" as they were 100 years ago, they are reality. The only limiting factor at this point is working out the specifics of application, and cost on implementation vs status quo. Where cost of implementation is steadily declining, while cost of "status quo" is increasing. That tends to suggest one inevitable outcome: Automation will happen.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2017, 12:10:36 PM by TheDeamon »

TheDeamon

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #61 on: March 02, 2017, 12:18:55 PM »
Quote
But even if we go all the way and simply say the government owns a vast majority of resources, that would only be scary if the government (or a party within it) was in a position to misuse them.

Yes, I too am appalled at the tyranny of the interstate highway system and the global positioning system.

...and the National Park Service, the National Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management as well.

Although I will say, while GPS does enable a lot of good uses, it also enables a lot of very spooky options as well. Ones that most people haven't even really begun to grapple with, even as tens of millions of people have signed themselves up for exactly that with Google, Apple, and Facebook to name a few.

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #62 on: March 02, 2017, 12:19:53 PM »
Seriati, think about how stupid the situation with automation is. We develop new technology which allows more work to be done in less time, and eventually for it to be done without human labor. Sounds pretty good, right? Mankind is advancing. So how dumb a system do we have to be using for the advent of robot labor to be the death knell for the quality of life for many people? In the abstract it seems "duh" obvious that technological advances should help us, as a species, but unfortunately we're too caught in a quagmire of our own imagination to allow us to be a species.

I hope you at least acknowledge how backwards we are such that the invention of robotic laborers will cause strife instead of celebration. The fact that we need to 'figure out' how to cope with this new type of technology ought to be seen as a sad mark on our culture.

Seriati

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #63 on: March 02, 2017, 12:25:14 PM »
If "being a serf" living in a "Star Trek world" setting of 23rd Century Earth, I think that's a serfdom I'd be reasonably ok with.

The biggest impediment to a "Star Trek" world is not a lack of resources or technology, its a lack of human character.  Did you never notice that after they "unified" the human race and gave them a higher morality, they promptly reinserted non-humans that have all our original faults to cause more conflict?

There's no reasonable way to believe that such concentration of power will not attract those interested in wielding power.  Go to any UN sponsored aid operation and impoverished country, and what do you find?  A lot of good, and a bunch of petty people who give into personal corruption to abuse the locals (whether its by extorting them for sexual favors or taking bribes to misallocate the goods to warlords).  Why is that?  If the noble impulse (which is what sent the aid) is really controlling, the petty corruption wouldn't exist and would be far more quickly stamped out.  Why on earth would people who want to control others and who get into government not abuse that power?

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #64 on: March 02, 2017, 12:31:15 PM »
The biggest impediment to a "Star Trek" world is not a lack of resources or technology, its a lack of human character.  Did you never notice that after they "unified" the human race and gave them a higher morality, they promptly reinserted non-humans that have all our original faults to cause more conflict?

With all due respect, I don't think it's plausible to say we should avoid creating a utopia (in theory) on the grounds that you and others might find it boring. Deliberately leaving 'conflict' in the system to keep things interesting is really not necessary. People will develop ways to pass the time. Read Stapleton's Last and First Men for some interesting 'future history' that thinks about how culture might adapt along with technological advances. In the short term, I think it's safe to say that gaming culture would be thriving...

Quote
Why on earth would people who want to control others and who get into government not abuse that power?

They would, and this has always been the problem with government. The key is to design a system with this in mind, to avoid potential for abuse. I'd say the founding of America was a great step in that direction, which several measures implemented to try to avoid the government doing certain kinds of things. It was imperfect, but had basically the right idea. But we can do better.

Gaoics79

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #65 on: March 02, 2017, 12:42:30 PM »
I was having this discussion with my wife last night after watching a documentary story about software supplanting lawyers in areas such as legal research. It occurred to me that even with today's AI you could theoretically replace about half of what I do as a lawyer with little diminution in quality.

Now of course translating that technology into a streamlined service that allows law firms to replace lawyers will take time. And some tasks are simply impossible or impractical for AI to replace (you're not going to have a computer conduct a deposition of a witness or cross examine someone at trial, even if the AI was good enough to do the job well - which it isn't at present) But if AI allows a single lawyer to handle, say, 250 files, where previously he could only handle 125 - that is a big worry for the industry. As noted, I think the technology is basically at a level where it's really only a matter of law firms and their clients figuring out how best to deploy this job killing technology efficiently, and okd habits dying hard. It's a matter of when, not if.

Getting back to the point, people who think this is just going to impact laborers are deluding themselves - manufacturing and retail (bank tellers, baristas, cashiers) are just the canaries in the coalmine. Knowledge workers, including professionals, are all under threat. What was funny about the story was that all these people were signing up for coding seminars, thinking I guess that if they could code they would somehow be spared. But why they'd think writing code is somehow more immune to automation than writing legal briefs is curious to me. No one is safe. Unless you own the factories, the land, the resources - you are going to get *censored*ed.

Getting back to my conversation with my wife, she made the same point Fenring just did - why the F would we do this to ourselves?! Why would we deliberately innovate technology that we know is going to worsen, not better, our own quality of life? I did ask her if she thought the buggy whip makers would have been right to torch auto factories at the dawn of the automobile and she balked at that - so maybe the sky won't fall after all. But somehow this time it seems different. Watching software like Watson in action, you realize just how powerful even our "weak" AI has gotten with enough CPU cycles and some heuristic algorithms.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2017, 12:46:36 PM by jasonr »

Seriati

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #66 on: March 02, 2017, 12:46:12 PM »
The biggest impediment to a "Star Trek" world is not a lack of resources or technology, its a lack of human character.  Did you never notice that after they "unified" the human race and gave them a higher morality, they promptly reinserted non-humans that have all our original faults to cause more conflict?

With all due respect, I don't think it's plausible to say we should avoid creating a utopia (in theory) on the grounds that you and others might find it boring.

You misunderstood my point.  The Star Trek stories are not premised on the idea that the humans represent our future, they're an exploration of our better selves interacting with the rest of us. 

This isn't about boredom, its about not wanting to be railroaded into a system where you've given up the power to control your own life to someone else who will place their interests over your own.  Most of our Constitution  is premised on the opposite idea, you know that each of us has the right and should be given the protections to ensure our own future.

Quote
Deliberately leaving 'conflict' in the system to keep things interesting is really not necessary.

The conflict is inherent in the people.  How do you take the people out?  Thinking machines really going to end well?

Quote
People will develop ways to pass the time. Read Stapleton's Last and First Men for some interesting 'future history' that thinks about how culture might adapt along with technological advances. In the short term, I think it's safe to say that gaming culture would be thriving...

What people do to waste this time has no bearing on the fact that it's ridiculous to assume that giving absolute power will not lead to corruption.

Quote
Quote
Why on earth would people who want to control others and who get into government not abuse that power?

They would, and this has always been the problem with government. The key is to design a system with this in mind, to avoid potential for abuse.

Agreed, however, advocating the concentration of power and resources like you are doing is the exact opposite of designing a system that mitigates the potential for abuse.  Individual property rights is a mitigation of that abuse, you seek to undermine it.  Individual responsibility is a mitigation of that abuse, you seek to undermine it.  Dispersion of power and control is a mitigation of that abuse, you seek to undermine it.

Quote
I'd say the founding of America was a great step in that direction, which several measures implemented to try to avoid the government doing certain kinds of things. It was imperfect, but had basically the right idea. But we can do better.

Going forward was a great idea, so lets go backwards?  What you are suggesting is a direct undermining of what is in the American Constitution.  If you believe the founding of America was a great step, why would you be advocating unwinding that step and pursuing the same type of system that America representing a step away from?

NobleHunter

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #67 on: March 02, 2017, 12:52:38 PM »
Quote
Now of course translating that technology into a streamlined service that allows law firms to replace lawyers will take time. And some tasks are simply impossible or impractical for AI to replace (you're not going to have a computer conduct a deposition of a witness or cross examine someone at trial, even if the AI was good enough to do the job well - which it isn't at present) But if AI allows a single lawyer to handle, say, 250 files, where previously he could only handle 125 - that is a big worry for the industry. As noted, I think the technology is basically at a level where it's really only a matter of law firms and their clients figuring out how best to deploy this job killing technology efficiently, and okd habits dying hard. It's a matter of when, not if.
This already happened in accounting. You still need people in the loop but one person with a spreadsheet can replace s whole department of paper shufflers. Now we can see the point where that one person might lose their job, too.

TheDeamon

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #68 on: March 02, 2017, 12:58:55 PM »
The biggest impediment to a "Star Trek" world is not a lack of resources or technology, its a lack of human character.  Did you never notice that after they "unified" the human race and gave them a higher morality, they promptly reinserted non-humans that have all our original faults to cause more conflict?

They didn't always have to use aliens to do this, they demonstrated that at the tail end of TNG and running in DS9, although it was more of a side story with the Marquis(sp?). Within the Star Trek universe, Earth basically is a virtual paradise because as a planet, it exists in what is essentially a post-scarcity society thanks to the combination of technology, and the size and scope of the influence the Federation of Planets enjoys(meaning they have access to most of the things that are rare even on a Galactic scale). That said, the "Galactic access" was rather moot in terms of daily life for most people, as they wouldn't have much need for those highly exotic elements in the conduct of their daily life.

Going back to the Marquis storylines though, and tangentially in a number of others, we did see Federation planets/colonies that were operating within the confines of a "scarcity" scenario, although they largely glossed over the economics side of it. DS9 at least acknowledged that currency did in fact exist in the Federation, and people were still "getting paid" for doing work. It just also happened that so long as they were operating within the confines of an exclusively Federation system, that pay wasn't really needed to accomplish the more basic things in life. Because once more, they're in a post-scarcity scenario on a wide range of items. Food being the most obvious of the "post-scarcity" examples.

Quote
There's no reasonable way to believe that such concentration of power will not attract those interested in wielding power.  Go to any UN sponsored aid operation and impoverished country, and what do you find?  A lot of good, and a bunch of petty people who give into personal corruption to abuse the locals (whether its by extorting them for sexual favors or taking bribes to misallocate the goods to warlords).  Why is that?  If the noble impulse (which is what sent the aid) is really controlling, the petty corruption wouldn't exist and would be far more quickly stamped out.  Why on earth would people who want to control others and who get into government not abuse that power?

The problem here is you're looking a scenario where scarcity is definitely a thing, and in some cases, something is deliberately being attempted to be maintained. (Can't have the natives/opposing ethnic groups become well fed and well nourished, they might get uppity and rebel)

In a post scarcity situation, corruption in regards to allocation of resources doesn't mean much because there is no scarcity of supplies in the first place. Which means everyone still ends up getting food, medical supplies, etc.

But as I've alluded to at the start of this tread, we're "not there yet" and won't be for some time, and Energy is the keystone to it all. Right now, the most promising of the (ultra-long-term) options remains fusion, although a serious adoption of Nuclear Power in the interim would work as well. (It should be able to buy us a few centuries of time to work out Fusion Power, which is more time than we should need) Of course, if people decide to not care about CO2, we have enough coal in the ground to last us many centuries. So in those respects, while Energy is important, it is less of a limiter than many would think, its just a question of how willing we are to exploit the power generation options we do have.

After that we're contending with availability of various elements to be used in the manufacture of various technologies, and that one is a bit more of a wild card, but with the increasing sophistication of the automation options we have, and access to space becoming less problematic, we have other potential means of sourcing those things, albeit, on a timescale likely to span decades from now. However, the more critical the need becomes for those resources, the faster such space exploitation efforts will move.

Which brings us back to scarcity. Realistically, in terms of the food supply, for example, we've been "post-scarcity" for much of it, in particular with grains, for decades. The problem there is transportation, infrastructure, and yes, corruption. It just happens that the most corrupt areas also tend to have the least infrastructure, which in turn means transportation is an iffy proposition at best.  On the market side of things, the people living in those areas also are unable to pay for the "relevant goods" involved, which means its largely outside groups/agencies trying to "bring the product" to that consumer.

In this case, the outside costs of that rampant corruption, as well as product losses(spoilage/theft/bribes) during transportation which is made even more expensive due to lack of infrastructure, results in the scenario you're pointing to in many corners of the world.

Comparing what happens in Zimbabwe to what might happen in the United States is a bit of a stretch. We'd have to let out transportation infrastructure fail completely(not likely in any scenario outlines), we'd also need our government to go deep into a rabbit hole it hasn't managed to fall into just yet, as well as needing to introduce a number of "cultural issues" that get taken to levels well above and beyond anything seen in recent history within our borders.

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #69 on: March 02, 2017, 01:02:49 PM »
Getting back to my conversation with my wife, she made the same point Fenring just did - why the F would we do this to ourselves?! Why would we deliberately innovate technology that we know is going to worsen, not better, our own quality of life? I did ask her if she thought the buggy whip makers would have been right to torch auto factories at the dawn of the automobile and she balked at that - so maybe the sky won't fall after all.

To be clear, my point isn't that since technology may replace jobs and therefore worsen life that we are making a mistake creating new technology. But there are two sides to this: the social side, which is how the advent of technology affects day-to-day life, and on this account I have grave concerns; and the economic/political side, which is a question of efficiency and ability, and on this account if society is unable to cope with better methods of production then it is the society which is wrong, not the technology. There is a separate and completely serious question down the line about whether a certain level of technology might not be irretrievably dangerous to human life as we know it; for instance, the so-called technological singularity, or weapons technology that could eliminate the planet in a blink. But in terms of inability to structure society to make use of better means of production - there's just no excuse!

TheDrake

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #70 on: March 02, 2017, 01:03:12 PM »
Quote
What was funny about the story was that all these people were signing up for coding seminars, thinking I guess that if they could code they would somehow be spared. But why they'd think writing code is somehow more immune to automation than writing legal briefs is curious to me. No one is safe.

This is absolutely true. Just any code won't do. Once there is a set of requirements, an AI could definitely write a lot of code. Human judgement is critical now to spot flaws in the requirements, but if an IA could train on the flaws spotted by humans, it could catch most of them.

In the (brief) history of computer programming, we've consistently moved up in abstraction and algorithms like compilers started with deficits, but can now generate more efficient machine code than almost any human.

Same with hardware design - even Intel is now using AI algorithms to determine the path of wires on their processors (they were one of the last holdouts).

Can this leverage a whole new world of human opportunity, like with spreadsheets and accountants? I guess time will tell. Right now it is difficult to see those opportunities opening up. Pick any example of AI displacement, and explain how this is going to create new opportunities (even if those can't be filled by the same people displaced) and maybe I'll temper my judgement.

As the slice of human productivity as a whole necessary to provide basic food, shelter, and clothing for everyone approaches zero %, shouldn't we ask ourselves why we demand that people sing for their supper?

TheDeamon

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #71 on: March 02, 2017, 01:11:06 PM »
Quote
Now of course translating that technology into a streamlined service that allows law firms to replace lawyers will take time. And some tasks are simply impossible or impractical for AI to replace (you're not going to have a computer conduct a deposition of a witness or cross examine someone at trial, even if the AI was good enough to do the job well - which it isn't at present) But if AI allows a single lawyer to handle, say, 250 files, where previously he could only handle 125 - that is a big worry for the industry. As noted, I think the technology is basically at a level where it's really only a matter of law firms and their clients figuring out how best to deploy this job killing technology efficiently, and okd habits dying hard. It's a matter of when, not if.
This already happened in accounting. You still need people in the loop but one person with a spreadsheet can replace s whole department of paper shufflers. Now we can see the point where that one person might lose their job, too.

I remember a news report about a month or so back about an Insurance Firm in Japan that announced plans to lay off something like 30 accountants in one of its departments after replacing them with IBM's Watson AI. So yeah, it isn't just the service sector and manufacturing people who are going to get hammered by this.

The only advantage the human has over the AI at this point in time is on the Human Interaction side of things. The AI can find an accounting discrepancy, but it's going to have a hard time making phone calls and tracking down the relevant human in order to communicate with them and resolve the issue.... At least, for now. But they're working on that, on multiple fronts. Siri, Echo, and Google are all examples of this process getting started. The best part is they've turned their R&D project into a marketable product that people are more than happy to help fund further research! (Speech Recognition + working out "a more dynamic response range" to "improve the customer experience")

Congratulations, you bought an Echo, thank you for providing us further funding in our efforts to create an AI alternative to a human operator working in a call center. Buh-bye Convergys!

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #72 on: March 02, 2017, 01:14:07 PM »
As the slice of human productivity as a whole necessary to provide basic food, shelter, and clothing for everyone approaches zero %, shouldn't we ask ourselves why we demand that people sing for their supper?

This is the crux of it. I think that a lot of the time the argument about man's 'freedom' being encapsulated in capitalism is functionally equivalent to 'free to abuse each other'. It's your choice to accept the slave wage job - sure it is! With the great option of starving or doing the job, you are "free" to choose what the variety of equivalent crappy jobs that don't even allow you to live. I think it's very hard for proponents of capitalism to see wage slavery as I do, as actual slavery restructured to make people think they've chosen it. And then most of that wage is paid back for rent anyhow, completing the circle. The proviso, as is oft mentioned, is that it's possible to migrate out of 'slavery row', however the proviso to that is that although for any given individual this is true, on the aggregate the net amount of 'slaves' in this sense must remain relatively constant in order for the jobs to get done. The system allows for mobility but is self-correcting and in a sense requires others to take their place.

NobleHunter

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #73 on: March 02, 2017, 01:15:26 PM »
I remember a news report about a month or so back about an Insurance Firm in Japan that announced plans to lay off something like 30 accountants in one of its departments after replacing them with IBM's Watson AI. So yeah, it isn't just the service sector and manufacturing people who are going to get hammered by this.

The only advantage the human has over the AI at this point in time is on the Human Interaction side of things. The AI can find an accounting discrepancy, but it's going to have a hard time making phone calls and tracking down the relevant human in order to communicate with them and resolve the issue.... At least, for now. But they're working on that, on multiple fronts. Siri, Echo, and Google are all examples of this process getting started. The best part is they've turned their R&D project into a marketable product that people are more than happy to help fund further research! (Speech Recognition + working out "a more dynamic response range" to "improve the customer experience")

Congratulations, you bought an Echo, thank you for providing us further funding in our efforts to create an AI alternative to a human operator working in a call center. Buh-bye Convergys!
That last is why I don't use Siri or voice recognition on my iPhone. I just want to talk to my pocket supercomputer, not hand over data to Apple.

TheDrake

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #74 on: March 02, 2017, 01:21:06 PM »
Quote
That last is why I don't use Siri or voice recognition on my iPhone. I just want to talk to my pocket supercomputer, not hand over data to Apple.

HA, google will probably figure out how to replace me in the workplace by monitoring my emails and calendar items. Meanwhile Atlassian can figure out the rest by looking at my code checkins and bug reports. :D


TheDrake

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #75 on: March 02, 2017, 01:21:52 PM »
Although if AI trains on my activity, it will probably sign up and start posting on Ornery.

TheDeamon

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #76 on: March 02, 2017, 01:23:36 PM »
As the slice of human productivity as a whole necessary to provide basic food, shelter, and clothing for everyone approaches zero %, shouldn't we ask ourselves why we demand that people sing for their supper?

Well, to be a momentary troll: For many parts of the world, for at least significant portions of the year, why do they even need clothing for that matter?  :o

But we've been able to grow enough food to feed entire global population for decades. The problem currently resides in getting it to them(and who pays for it). So that is one industry I'd be marginally ok with seeing something done sooner rather than later. (Back to why I fixated on "Universal food stamps" as an example of a potential first step towards a UBI in the first place)

Shelter currently remains a much more problematic field, particularly when you start dealing in already urbanized area. Sure you can build up, but first you have to tear something else down, and building that new structure is going to cost a lot of $$ per square foot in comparison to building a bunch of single story bungalows somewhere else. (Mitigating factor is working out the "extra costs" tied to the resulting sprawl and support infrastructure needed to support it in turn)

Which isn't to mention that robots haven't really found their way into the construction industry at this point. The Machinery they're using is becoming more advanced and sophisticated, but they're also highly specialized in nature, and again, I'm more inclined to call them machines rather than robots at this stage. Now once the (almost) anthropomorphic (and autonomous--"Look ma! No strings!") robot enters the scene, we're in a different ball game.

That said, I can see an economic scenario where robot labor elsewhere helps "raise funds" to "provide incentive" for human labor to go about building said shelters in the interim.

D.W.

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #77 on: March 02, 2017, 01:43:16 PM »
If you don't build high, requiring much structural support, the idea that we could "print" a single level dwelling unit out of some tracked beast that rides along 12' above the ground with a 20-30' tread span is probably already doable.  It could plod along a grid printing out dwellings out of some composite material all day long.  Snap in some conduit work or lay them into troughs for water/sewer/hvac/electricity/data and there ya go. 

Not pretty but, livable?  Ya, probably not that hard to do.  Who would live in such an awful shanty town?  Well, that depends...  What are you doing with your "free time"?  Are you traveling?  Is this just a place to sleep or is it a home?  A base of operations for your vocation/hobby?  Do you need wide open space near by to enjoy nature?  Do you just need a place to plug into VR land? 

Why does one NEED a large fancy home?  Status?  Do we require isolation?  What level of space / separation from one's neighbors is optimal for mental health?

TheDrake

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #78 on: March 02, 2017, 01:54:34 PM »
AI in the construction industry is dependent on some emerging technologies. Computer vision,  non-expert human teaching, and adaptability.

Rather than programming in all the decision making about where to put nails, you teach the robot the same way as a human. Drive screw through this drywall into the studs every 18 inches. More specialized or dangerous skills, like welding or crane operation, are much further off.

The key is the move from special purpose robots (I can only do one thing well) to general purpose robots (I can do anything you teach me). Here's a great set of projects at ECHORD



TheDeamon

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #79 on: March 02, 2017, 02:14:18 PM »
This isn't about boredom, its about not wanting to be railroaded into a system where you've given up the power to control your own life to someone else who will place their interests over your own.  Most of our Constitution  is premised on the opposite idea, you know that each of us has the right and should be given the protections to ensure our own future.

See my earlier comments about "Natural Rights" and how technology is reaching a point where many of the arguments start to break down. The Founding Fathers of the United States wrote the CotUS in the 18th century, the realities of production at that time are wildly different from what we're looking at going forward.

Which is where I kind of went to with the commentary about "hardship" which is where I think a lot of the founders would agree. The Constitution imposed a hard firewall that prevented the Government from placing any individual into dire straights not of their own making, just because it could.

Nothing we're talking about means this needs to change in any meaningful way. For that matter, the government doesn't even really need to own the means of production, it just has to have a means of access. Financial means is more than adequate, and as far as established law goes on the matter, there is nothing I'm aware of that presents a constitutional challenge to the idea of "Universal Food Stamps" for example. The only challenge in the present day context is "Who pays for it?" For which, a number of Constitutional options already exist.

Which leaves the question as an ethical one, rather than Constitutional.

Housing also finds itself with legal precedent because of HUD and Welfare. Likewise, a full fledged UBI likewise has coverage under welfare in my view. The question simply rolls back to who pays for it?

Reality is, and this goes back to "not there yet" is that while the food stamp option is somewhat viable today, implementation issues due to the politics involved would likely destroy it from the onset. (They wouldn't make it "universal" enough) Which isn't even getting into the funding it side of things.

I don't see a housing option at present that doesn't either cause the Housing market to go insane, or start creating slums everywhere, if not both.

UBI itself is certainly a "not there yet" thing, and would be a middle class destroyer(for the worse) at present. (Ultimately, UBI would essentially be a "middle class destroyer" because it would essentially destroy the lower class instead--by lifting them up, rather than dragging the middle class down, at least, in theory)

Quote
Quote
People will develop ways to pass the time. Read Stapleton's Last and First Men for some interesting 'future history' that thinks about how culture might adapt along with technological advances. In the short term, I think it's safe to say that gaming culture would be thriving...

What people do to waste this time has no bearing on the fact that it's ridiculous to assume that giving absolute power will not lead to corruption.

One man's trash is another man's treasure. There are professional gamers out there who make very highly respectable incomes off of it as it stands today. Likewise, comparable comments about "wastes of time" can be pointed to in regards to things like: Concerts, Operas, Theater Productions(Shakespeare anyone?), Movies, Television Programming, reading fiction of any kinds, and so on.

Of course, the other thing not getting much attention yet is the increasing ability of visual effects, although this had an oblique mention in the Fake News thread. We're nearing the point where we may be seeing a fully Artificial "Live Action" Movie star as it were, where the body and voice alike actually wholly artificial constructs that only exists as pixels and 3d models on a computer network. Eventually, they even tie a "human-like" AI to thing to try to add depth to it.

But yes, we're heading into the realm where a production studio could produce a "Computer Animated Feature Film" that the vast majority of people will be unable to tell apart from a live-action production with physical sets and actors. Where they can even go one step further, they don't even need the human voice actor either. Another thing that Amazon, Apple, and Google are getting with their voice activated and networked devices--lots and lots of human voice samples.

Quote
Agreed, however, advocating the concentration of power and resources like you are doing is the exact opposite of designing a system that mitigates the potential for abuse.  Individual property rights is a mitigation of that abuse, you seek to undermine it.  Individual responsibility is a mitigation of that abuse, you seek to undermine it.  Dispersion of power and control is a mitigation of that abuse, you seek to undermine it.

You're skipping a step here. A UBI doesn't require governmental control of everything, or even most of it. In theory, all it does is establish the base-line. It doesn't encompass everything. Like with the "Universal food Stamps" idea, I'd presume it would be budgeted to provide for "a healthy balanced diet" of approximately 2,000 calories a day. If you want more than that, or you prefer a more unbalanced diet, you're going to need to come up with money of your own to obtain it. The companies that offer those options wouldn't have gone anywhere, they're still there, and if you have the money, you can buy it.

The Universal Basic ______ is a baseline, its the minimum, not the maximum. If you want more, you better find something "productive" to do which will give you the means to obtain it. This is not communism where the state owns and controls everything, people can do as they wish, they just happen to have a much more extensive "safety net" then they had previously. For many people, that may mean they work less, or it might mean they switch to a profession they enjoy more, but pays less. In many respects, it could be a net gain for everyone. Employers have less turnover post-transition as they start to only really see the applicants who want to work, rather than the ones who have to work. Employees are happier because they're more likely to be doing something they want, rather than something they have to, and they don't have a proverbial weight tied around their neck.

Also, as I recall bringing up previously, just because we're talking about a theoretical setting where Robots/AI's can perform virtually all tasks, doesn't mean that humans aren't performing many of them anyway. Star Trek: TNG had an example of that with the Picard family vineyard, and the ongoing thing about the "purists" who refused to eat replicated food whenever possible, and others(Like Picard himself) who didn't mind partaking in "the real thing" from time to time.

The economics would be very different, because the basic needs are being met, but economic activity would be happening all the same, just a lot of it is more likely to be happening in the form of barter augmented by currency rather than by currency alone. In this respect, the numerous Star Trek episodes where you seem them visiting some planet with the village/town market where people are hawking their wares may not be too far from the reality. There may be a Wal-Mart like entity lurking around the corner with the "robot made"/replicated/3d-printed goods, but a lot of the more interesting economic activity is happening at the local swap meet/bazaar where the locals are hawking their (mostly) "locally produced" stuff.

Quote
Going forward was a great idea, so lets go backwards?  What you are suggesting is a direct undermining of what is in the American Constitution.  If you believe the founding of America was a great step, why would you be advocating unwinding that step and pursuing the same type of system that America representing a step away from?

See above, most of what we're talking about is already provisioned for under existing law, it just hasn't been extended to apply to the population at large.

Now as to whether you thing those laws themselves are Constitutional, that's another matter. But SCotUS seems to think so.

TheDeamon

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #80 on: March 02, 2017, 02:26:27 PM »
AI in the construction industry is dependent on some emerging technologies. Computer vision,  non-expert human teaching, and adaptability.

Rather than programming in all the decision making about where to put nails, you teach the robot the same way as a human. Drive screw through this drywall into the studs every 18 inches. More specialized or dangerous skills, like welding or crane operation, are much further off.

Well, they also have to contend with power supply as well. Construction sites have an annoying tendency to be "under Construction" for some reason. Which creates a whole slew of problems for most robotics currently available. They need a support infrastructure in place for them to operate properly, as many of them are often permanently installed in a fixed location and hardwired in place.

A robot helping lay out the footings for a building foundation at a (somewhat) remote site is going to have a hard time finding a functional power outlet to plug into, never mind anything else. Dragging an extension cord around presents its own set of issues as well.

So short of the already mentioned option of their 3D Printing a home, a robot taking over the job of a human on a construction site is unlikely in the near to medium term. Either Battery technology is going to need to take one heck of a leap forward, of someone is going to need to discover a new type of power source that could be built into the robot itself.

That being said, I could see robots getting employed in Manufactured Homes/Modular Construction facilities in the coming decade or so, as many of those operations happen indoors, and providing the relevant support infrastructure (external to the structure being built) may not be too involved. Heck, if they're not too concerned about the power costs, they could probably power/trickle charge them through an induction system built into the floor and walls of the "factory" itself, and only plug them into the wall directly once the battery drops below a certain point.

But that still likely translates into humans doing a fair bit of the on-site construction work.

Seriati

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #81 on: March 02, 2017, 02:29:35 PM »
The biggest impediment to a "Star Trek" world is not a lack of resources or technology, its a lack of human character.  Did you never notice that after they "unified" the human race and gave them a higher morality, they promptly reinserted non-humans that have all our original faults to cause more conflict?

They didn't always have to use aliens to do this, they demonstrated that at the tail end of TNG and running in DS9, although it was more of a side story with the Marquis(sp?).

What you're catching on to is the pushback they received for presenting humans so "pure" and other races so not.  The exploration of humanity's good and bad got mixed up with the apparent "racism" of how they were exploring it.  DS9 was explicitly billed as a darker more realistic depiction of humanity.

Quote
In a post scarcity situation, corruption in regards to allocation of resources doesn't mean much because there is no scarcity of supplies in the first place. Which means everyone still ends up getting food, medical supplies, etc.

We've been in a legitimate "post scarcity" world with respect to food on a global stage since at least the 70's.  How's that "corruption" in regards to allocation not meaning much working out?

If you guys want to be aspirational go ahead.  But what's being proposed here as inevitable is in no way actually inevitable.  Much of it could already be done, so you should ask yourself why its not.  It's far more likely that the absence of usefull work will lead to class warfare and envy, than to a Star Trek redistribution where everyone has everything they could really want, or even what they need.  That's not being mean, or wanting to punish people, its just a literal reflection that this "natural state" you are positing has never actually arisen even where the elements are in fact present, which implies you're missing a key consideration in your analysis.

I'll tell you what it is.  For many, maybe most, people equal or enough isn't good enough.  They're hardwired to need to be better than everyone else, to have more, it's part of their self worth.  If you constrain the ways to get that all you're doing is focusing their energy and intent on that way.  It's the same phenomena that you see where young men become drug dealers instead of good students, where the corrupt seek out political power, and where ideologies of hate support male dominance over women. 

I wish it was as simple as you guys are implying.

TheDrake

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #82 on: March 02, 2017, 02:40:55 PM »

That being said, I could see robots getting employed in Manufactured Homes/Modular Construction facilities in the coming decade or so, as many of those operations happen indoors, and providing the relevant support infrastructure (external to the structure being built) may not be too involved. Heck, if they're not too concerned about the power costs, they could probably power/trickle charge them through an induction system built into the floor and walls of the "factory" itself, and only plug them into the wall directly once the battery drops below a certain point.

But that still likely translates into humans doing a fair bit of the on-site construction work.

Exactly. They aren't going to be laying foundation or framing, most likely. Its far easier for them to be doing the finishing work like flooring, painting, exterior masonry, etc. And they generally don't eliminate all positions - there's a specific machine that can lay bricks 4x faster than a human, but it isn't cost effective on small structures and still requires a human to supervise. (ctl-alt-del?)


TheDrake

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #83 on: March 02, 2017, 02:45:13 PM »
I wish it was as simple as you guys are implying.

I don't think it is simple at all. We absolutely have a choice. We can opt for all out class warfare between starving people with no relevant skill and people with unbounded greed. That's probably more likely. I'd just prefer a different course.

I firmly believe in the idea of self-promotion and achievement. I would abhor seeing this concept applied to equalize standard of living, but I propose there is a basic human right to be able to eat sufficient nutritional porridge to remain healthy, even if you are lazy ungrateful human garbage. Just because we can. The current logistics or politics of such notwithstanding.

Seriati

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #84 on: March 02, 2017, 02:52:56 PM »
I'm feeling more and more like I'm responding to straw men and people talking past what I've already said.

Nothing we're talking about means this needs to change in any meaningful way. For that matter, the government doesn't even really need to own the means of production, it just has to have a means of access. Financial means is more than adequate, and as far as established law goes on the matter, there is nothing I'm aware of that presents a constitutional challenge to the idea of "Universal Food Stamps" for example. The only challenge in the present day context is "Who pays for it?" For which, a number of Constitutional options already exist.

Universal food stamps are not fundamentally different than UBI.  If you look back on my prior comments you'd see that the specific objection to such a program is that it undermines the value of whatever currency, be it dollars or stamps, that you are using.  You can already see some of that today, where food stamps are often sold for steep discounts in exchange for currency.  That's always going to be the case when you create a company scrip (which is what food stamps are) that can only be exchanged for a subset of available goods.

You also ignore that the only reason we can prop up a food stamp program in the first place is that the government is directly manipulating the food production market.  Food is overproduced as a strategic matter to the point where we are constantly trying to find uses for it, even where they are terribly inefficient (both HFC's and ethanol fuel made by corn are examples of this).

You can certainly make an argument that this is a social good, but government manipulation on this matter has had really destructive knock on effects with respect to food quality, environmental damage and the ability of individuals rather than corporations to make a living in food production.

Quote
Quote
What people do to waste this time has no bearing on the fact that it's ridiculous to assume that giving absolute power will not lead to corruption.

One man's trash is another man's treasure. There are professional gamers out there who make very highly respectable incomes off of it as it stands today. Likewise, comparable comments about "wastes of time" can be pointed to in regards to things like: Concerts, Operas, Theater Productions(Shakespeare anyone?), Movies, Television Programming, reading fiction of any kinds, and so on.

You misunderstood the point.  There's no condemnation in what I said.  By "waste" I'm specifically referring to what every human will have to do when there is no productive use for their time available. 

Quote
Quote
Agreed, however, advocating the concentration of power and resources like you are doing is the exact opposite of designing a system that mitigates the potential for abuse.  Individual property rights is a mitigation of that abuse, you seek to undermine it.  Individual responsibility is a mitigation of that abuse, you seek to undermine it.  Dispersion of power and control is a mitigation of that abuse, you seek to undermine it.

You're skipping a step here. A UBI doesn't require governmental control of everything, or even most of it. In theory, all it does is establish the base-line.

You're mixing the arguments up.  Robot production and distribution of all resources is what requires government nationalization and control.

UBI is just communism by another name.  The consequence that it has is a rapid (or slow) degrading of the currency, which ultimately kills the incentive to use that currency, along with the motivation to produce products exchangeable for it, or to innovate in "legitimate" enterprise.  It also will eventually end with price controls and central planning - you can already see that in the health care industry where the government requires that everyone have specific forms that cover conditions regardless of cost or need (which it then subsidizes directly - a limited form of UBI - and indirectly), and heavily imposes all forms of price controls to maintain (medicare payment rates, subsidies to insurers, tax deductions, and direct subsidies to insured people). 

Quote
The Universal Basic ______ is a baseline, its the minimum, not the maximum. If you want more, you better find something "productive" to do which will give you the means to obtain it.

Or, you act like a rational person and vote for increases to the UBI.  Once you establish the entitlement its the inevitable result that it will be increased till it breaks.

The idea that people can work to "get ahead" already exists, and the jealously that it causes when people get ahead will undermine your results.

Quote
This is not communism where the state owns and controls everything, people can do as they wish, they just happen to have a much more extensive "safety net" then they had previously.

What do you think communism is?  From each according to his means, to each according to his needs.

Be honest with yourself.

Quote
Employers have less turnover post-transition as they start to only really see the applicants who want to work, rather than the ones who have to work. Employees are happier because they're more likely to be doing something they want, rather than something they have to, and they don't have a proverbial weight tied around their neck.

Employers won't have employees if the UBI is high enough to matter, if it's not it won't be functionally different than the situation today.  Nor will their be any real increase in their gains, they may move more goods but their actual profit will be much much less.  They will literally be worse off.

Quote
The economics would be very different, because the basic needs are being met, but economic activity would be happening all the same, just a lot of it is more likely to be happening in the form of barter augmented by currency rather than by currency alone.

Lol.  Yes.  We have a name for the economic activity that will be occurring and increasing.  The black market.

TheDeamon

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #85 on: March 02, 2017, 02:59:05 PM »
We've been in a legitimate "post scarcity" world with respect to food on a global stage since at least the 70's.  How's that "corruption" in regards to allocation not meaning much working out?

There's more going on in that regard than "just corruption" and lot of has to do with how markets behave. The infrastructure situation in those areas also play a major role in the problems experienced in getting aid to where its needed. Civil unrest in those areas doesn't help. It still stands that the comparison doesn't work in the United States. Infrastructure exists, and while it may have more than its share of issues, it isn't a muddy 200 mile long jeep trail subject to frequent flooding and blockage from falling trees with high risk of being attacked by various flavors of militant groups... In addition to all of the government corruption you had to deal with prior to getting on that 200 mile long jeep trail.

The solution to hunger in many of those areas is investment in better transportation infrastructure. Once you're able to easily transport goods and services into/out of those regions, the food shortages are easily addressed. Until that infrastructure exists, they'll continue to suffer. But of course, since the "easy funding" for such efforts is determined by capitalistic initiatives, that infrastructure will never be funded/built until/unless there is something "of commercial value" discovered in those areas. But as that hasn't happened, or what's been found hasn't been deemed worth the risks(due to corruption/unrest) as well as lack of infrastructure, they continue to languish.

This has as much, or more to do with people preferring to focus on the symptoms rather than the cause. In some cases, it also has to do with other groups being fixated on keeping such areas "as natural as possible" and not wanting such infrastructure built for fear of what commercial interests may do once easy access is gained into those regions, with special emphasis on the "environmental concerns." Better that thousands languish in poverty, famine, and disease, than a path get cleared which opens them up to easy access by "first world interests" and consequently increase their environmental footprint on their local area.

Quote
If you guys want to be aspirational go ahead.  But what's being proposed here as inevitable is in no way actually inevitable.  Much of it could already be done, so you should ask yourself why its not.

Lack of political will, and for the ones inclined to pursue it(and able), their priorities lie elsewhere.

Quote
It's far more likely that the absence of usefull work will lead to class warfare and envy, than to a Star Trek redistribution where everyone has everything they could really want, or even what they need.  That's not being mean, or wanting to punish people, its just a literal reflection that this "natural state" you are positing has never actually arisen even where the elements are in fact present, which implies you're missing a key consideration in your analysis.

When have these elements been present before? This is news to me that this has happened before.

The closest comparison you have is in communist nations. Obviously, the USSR was a spectacular failure. Venezuela was simply a get rich quick scheme for those in power. China on the other hand is an interesting case of what happens when you don't go down the strict communist path. I think China is certainly on the "too far" side of the spectrum, and there are numerous issues there. But nothing discussed in here was an advocacy for central planning or state control of anything.

It was the observation that a "Basic Income" of various flavors is becoming a viable thing to make available for all. You're still fixating on something else. How does the government giving you and EBT Card that gets $400/month loaded onto it that you can only spend on (certain types of) food products constitute "state control" of anything beyond whatever mechanism was employed to allocate that $400 to you in the first place? Nothing else has changed in your life, you just happen to have a $400/month supplement to your budget that can only be spent on food. (in the case of "Universal food stamps")

Quote
I'll tell you what it is.  For many, maybe most, people equal or enough isn't good enough.  They're hardwired to need to be better than everyone else, to have more, it's part of their self worth.  If you constrain the ways to get that all you're doing is focusing their energy and intent on that way.

And how exactly does a basic income constrain them in any way? All it does is set a baseline for them. No matter what they try or do, if they succeed or fail, they know they'll be getting that $400/month food budget from the Government. How does that entrap them into anything?

And who said the Basic Income was about being equal? I've said repeatedly it's a minimum, not a maximum. If they want to do more, they can do so. As I've said previously, it would do wonders on addressing the perverse incentive we give many for them not to work.

Under this construct, they get their benefits that they currently enjoy(/abuse), and they now have to option of going to wherever they damn well please doing whatever they want to earn extra income beyond that, and take no risk at losing that "basic income."

How you find this to be more restricting than the current system is mind boggling.

NobleHunter

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #86 on: March 02, 2017, 03:05:49 PM »
I'll tell you what it is.  For many, maybe most, people equal or enough isn't good enough.  They're hardwired to need to be better than everyone else, to have more, it's part of their self worth.  If you constrain the ways to get that all you're doing is focusing their energy and intent on that way.  It's the same phenomena that you see where young men become drug dealers instead of good students, where the corrupt seek out political power, and where ideologies of hate support male dominance over women. 
Are people hardwired that way because of intrinsic human nature or because of the milieu in which they were raised? Similar claims have been made about universal ideas of fairness based on studies of university students, only to find human ideas of fairness vary considerably depending within the human experience.

Gaoics79

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #87 on: March 02, 2017, 03:07:14 PM »
One question I have is what to do about shifting goalposts concerning poverty? What I mean is that in a country like Canada, we have free basic healthcare, free education to high school (and subsidized university education with universal access to government loans for tuition), free social housing and free entertainment, books, programs in the form of numerous services at a municipal level. Go back 50 years and what we consider "poverty" today in absolute terms might have been considered more than acceptable or even laudable.

Who is to say that what we deem to be a "minimum" standard of living would even be acceptable to people 50 years from now? Part of the ubi premise seems to be that if you can meet basic needs somehow you'll reach a level of stability whereby society will be "content" yet I see no evidence that this is possible. Societies, like people, adjust their expectations. What would have been considered lavish wealth and comfort 100 years ago is now considered an unacceptable degree of "poverty" that merits protest and even revolution in some quarters. A universal "basic" income presupposes that we will ever even agree in what "basic" should mean.

Regarding Trek, the central flaw of Rodenberry's vision was not in having a post scarcity, utopian society free of war, poverty and greed. Rather, it was the failure to recognize that human beings had to change too, and that this change would need to be fundamental. The humans of Next Gen are pretty much impossible - people with essentially 20th century values, 20th century ideals, magically cleansed of their sins. They are as much an absurdity and an anachronism as imagining steam powered starships. Rodenberry sold us the fraud that we could remain exactly as we are in every way, but be better. That is what DS9 was a reaction against and why it retreated so far from the Utopia of STNG.

TheDeamon

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #88 on: March 02, 2017, 03:17:22 PM »
The Universal Basic ______ is a baseline, its the minimum, not the maximum. If you want more, you better find something "productive" to do which will give you the means to obtain it.

Or, you act like a rational person and vote for increases to the UBI.  Once you establish the entitlement its the inevitable result that it will be increased till it breaks.

The idea that people can work to "get ahead" already exists, and the jealously that it causes when people get ahead will undermine your results.

You're going to be dealing with this reality eventually anyhow, when the Robot's and AI phase out most skilled labor work as it is. The majority of people, educated and not alike, are going to unemployed and unable to "earn" the resources they need in order to simply survive. And the legal precedents already exist. Rest assured, they're going to vote for something like UBI at some point. After all, "Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for lunch."

As such, it is in the best interests of all involved that "the transition" that happens is done in a rational way, and preferably in a manner that is beneficial to everyone involved. Rather than the reactionary option that is otherwise likely to happen.

Quote
Quote
This is not communism where the state owns and controls everything, people can do as they wish, they just happen to have a much more extensive "safety net" then they had previously.

What do you think communism is?  From each according to his means, to each according to his needs.

Be honest with yourself.

In communism, private property doesn't exist. Full stop. End of story.

Nothing about UBI, in the context of full automation, prevents private property from continuing to exist.

Quote
Quote
Employers have less turnover post-transition as they start to only really see the applicants who want to work, rather than the ones who have to work. Employees are happier because they're more likely to be doing something they want, rather than something they have to, and they don't have a proverbial weight tied around their neck.

Employers won't have employees if the UBI is high enough to matter, if it's not it won't be functionally different than the situation today.  Nor will their be any real increase in their gains, they may move more goods but their actual profit will be much much less.  They will literally be worse off.

Which part of "basic" did you not get? That said, many people love their work, so in that respect, you'll always find the "I can't believe I'm getting paid to do this" person.

However, you're missing the wider point that triggered this discussion. In the longer-term, employers aren't exactly going to be in a situation where they need a human employee, a robot or AI is likely to be just as capable, and possibly cost less(unless minimum wage was abolished). The only reason for the human employee is for cachet, or simply "to have that old school touch."

Quote
Quote
The economics would be very different, because the basic needs are being met, but economic activity would be happening all the same, just a lot of it is more likely to be happening in the form of barter augmented by currency rather than by currency alone.

Lol.  Yes.  We have a name for the economic activity that will be occurring and increasing.  The black market.

Black market is illegal trade. It isn't black market trade if it is legal trade, now is it?

That said, the Black Market isn't going away no matter what people may try to do.

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #89 on: March 02, 2017, 03:41:26 PM »
I'll tell you what it is.  For many, maybe most, people equal or enough isn't good enough.  They're hardwired to need to be better than everyone else, to have more, it's part of their self worth.  If you constrain the ways to get that all you're doing is focusing their energy and intent on that way.  It's the same phenomena that you see where young men become drug dealers instead of good students, where the corrupt seek out political power, and where ideologies of hate support male dominance over women. 
Are people hardwired that way because of intrinsic human nature or because of the milieu in which they were raised? Similar claims have been made about universal ideas of fairness based on studies of university students, only to find human ideas of fairness vary considerably depending within the human experience.

To add to what NH wrote, it's quite convenient to be arguing for capitalism as a system and using intense competitive and domineering tendencies in humans as evidence that capitalism suits this temperament. Did it never occur to anyone that the reason people behave this way is because they were brought up in a system that trained them to get "as much as they can"? Competition literally means defeating others at some task, which intrinsically means winners and losers. It's part of the definition! Well what do you expect when generations of people have been systematically trained that they must defeat everyone else in life? If you train a soldier to kill and to view certain people as "the enemy" you bet that's going to change worldview, attitude, mannerisms; everyone across the board. Civilians are likewise trained 'to kill' in the economic sense, and are pitted against others as 'the enemy' in business as a matter of course. "Business is business" is the catchphrase here, typically used to justify unpleasant actions that make good tactical sense. It is 100% predictable that a certain percentage of the populace will not only adapt fully into the competitive mindset but will be pathologically fixated on accumulated massive amounts of money, controlling people, etc.

It's very true that the current generation would probably chaff somewhat under a system where they didn't need to do this (or couldn't), simply because old habits die hard. I think the next generation would have little problem with it, and I think that additionally you'd magically find that they'd be nicer people as well. Would there still be people to game the system? Yes, especially perhaps psychopaths. But if the system is geared so as to be immune from being gamed then there's nothing to talk about. That is the real task; right now it's more or less designed to be maximally enticing to people who want to abuse the system to gain exaggerated advantage over others.

Who is to say that what we deem to be a "minimum" standard of living would even be acceptable to people 50 years from now? Part of the ubi premise seems to be that if you can meet basic needs somehow you'll reach a level of stability whereby society will be "content" yet I see no evidence that this is possible. Societies, like people, adjust their expectations. What would have been considered lavish wealth and comfort 100 years ago is now considered an unacceptable degree of "poverty" that merits protest and even revolution in some quarters. A universal "basic" income presupposes that we will ever even agree in what "basic" should mean.

This is not really the main difficulty, although it's an interesting sociological question. "Basic" isn't some relativistic nebulous concept; it's pretty darn easy to define. It means a person has food, shelter, access to transportation, an environs of some dignity (this part is perhaps the most nebulous, but basically it means not in a room with 20 cots), and in general means the person isn't forced to find a job to avoid being homeless. The especially important factor here is the inherent lack of negotiating power a wage earner has in a job market where there is a glut of labor and not enough jobs, and where many of them have to take any job they can just to live in any capacity. The asymmetry of the "you're lucky to have a job, punk" wage system when compared to what we can logistically produce and distribute is a joke. It's that disparity that I think it's most important for a UBI to level. I think in practice most people would still prefer to work a wage job and earn a decent living when coupling that with their UBI, versus doing nothing and living a very minimalistic existence. But for those who want to become roommates to save money and live off their UBI - all power to them, as they're taking up less space anyhow and will probably spend most of their money on food and rent. 

D.W.

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #90 on: March 02, 2017, 03:47:07 PM »
Quote
This has as much, or more to do with people preferring to focus on the symptoms rather than the cause. In some cases, it also has to do with other groups being fixated on keeping such areas "as natural as possible" and not wanting such infrastructure built for fear of what commercial interests may do once easy access is gained into those regions, with special emphasis on the "environmental concerns." Better that thousands languish in poverty, famine, and disease, than a path get cleared which opens them up to easy access by "first world interests" and consequently increase their environmental footprint on their local area.
This ties into present day immigration discussions and controversy.  No infrastructure exists where you are?  Let’s leave.  On a basic level, this often makes sense.  We as humans live in some inhospitable places.  Some consolidation could vastly improve logistics in getting people warm enough / cool enough / hydrated and fed.  But… xenophobia is on the uptick.  I don’t think this is coincidence. 

Our economy is already at a race to the bottom in quantifying the value of a human life.  Once we realize that the bottom line is in fact not a human at all, things could turn ugly.  In many places we could argue that’s already reached such a dire situation that only brutality and threat keeps people from leaving or entering places where the math may work out more favorably. 

I suppose we can rest easier knowing that with a highly functional government we will suffer last when this tide sweeps through.  Hopefully the AI isn’t learning morality from us if we want it to act as caretakers for our “retirement” from an existence of toil and scarcity. 
« Last Edit: March 02, 2017, 03:51:10 PM by D.W. »

Gaoics79

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #91 on: March 02, 2017, 05:33:08 PM »
Quote
This is not really the main difficulty, although it's an interesting sociological question. "Basic" isn't some relativistic nebulous concept; it's pretty darn easy to define. It means a person has food, shelter, access to transportation, an environs of some dignity (this part is perhaps the most nebulous, but basically it means not in a room with 20 cots), and in general means the person isn't forced to find a job to avoid being homeless.

Well that is most first world countries at present.

Do you think that everyone in these countries would agree that everyone in these countries have their basic needs met? Doubtful.

TheDrake

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #92 on: March 03, 2017, 10:32:28 AM »
Wow jasonr. So you think everyone in a first world country has food, shelter, and access to transportation?

I think you didn't mean to say that, but you even quoted the section that says "means the person isn't forced to find a job to avoid being homeless"

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #93 on: March 03, 2017, 10:46:09 AM »
Wow jasonr. So you think everyone in a first world country has food, shelter, and access to transportation?

I think you didn't mean to say that, but you even quoted the section that says "means the person isn't forced to find a job to avoid being homeless"

I even specified further, that not just any kind of shelter counts in the way I mean it, but should be something like a 'private' home, which might include roommates but does not include a homeless shelter or hostel.

Seriati

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #94 on: March 03, 2017, 11:08:35 AM »
So if no one works, and is just given American "standard" (or do you mean above standard), housing, food and transportation, where does this stuff come from?

You guys keep acting like a requirement that one contributes to society in order to receive benefits from society is the same thing as slavery.  It's plausible that paying taxes makes one a slave, it's not plausible that you are only not a slave if you are free to contributing nothing and take what you need from others.  That makes who ever is actually doing the work a slave to the freeloader, since they have to give up the benefit of their efforts to provide that support.

How do you reconcile the logical inconsistency in declaring someone a slave, unless others become that persons slave?

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #95 on: March 03, 2017, 11:43:45 AM »
So if no one works, and is just given American "standard" (or do you mean above standard), housing, food and transportation, where does this stuff come from?

You are confusing a lack of forcing people to work with a lack of incentive for anyone to work. Where there is incentive people will do it; the market price for what incentive will work is always the issue. Right now the incentive isn't based on what people feel is reasonable to agree to, but rather they must accept the terms offered on compulsion. The fact that they are not compelled by any given employer is a trivial irrelevancy, because when faced with the system we could just as soon treat it as the agent compelling them. What 'communism' in Russia lacked was incentive to work, to compete, and above all, they deliberately inserted controls to prevent anyone from competing or being industrious. Not sure why you persist in thinking that anything like that would happen here. For the most part you have to bodily stop people from trying to make money when they think they can. The fact that you're giving away some for free to them won't change that, because they'll want more either way. The deal just has to be sweet enough. Will someone go for a crap job at $8 an hour on a UBI? Maybe not, but that doesn't mean they won't be looking for ways to increase their revenue. If anything it will give them a safety cushion through which they can pursue alternate income paths.

Quote
How do you reconcile the logical inconsistency in declaring someone a slave, unless others become that persons slave?

Serfdom is serfdom, whether or not it's officially called that. Except that back in the old days you could opt out by literally leaving and going to live in the forest or what have you, while now even that would be illegal since you'd either be trespassing or breaking some local laws (no fire permit! no hunting license!). There is more or less no choice now but to remain 'in society' and to pay rent, do the jobs that are available, and join the cycle. There are survivalists out there, and just to put cultural things in perspective I think they are mostly cast in the light of being Unabomber terrorist-types these days.

But to push the point further, slavery in the past was 'excusable', if you want to call it that, on account that the economic system required large amounts of manual labor to get jobs done, that often could not have been done had they been free men being paid good wages. Technologically speaking, the age of brute force labor did in some sense necessitate slavery, or at the very least we could say that it made sense to have slaves, whether or not it was decent or moral in an absolute sense. But if robots take over jobs in the near future it will neither be necessary nor sensible to force people to do menial labor to earn their keep as it was in slavery's past. The only reason to employ wage slaves at that point would literally be because you want them to work, which is a far more nefarious reason than the historical one, which actually amounted to real utility (at the expense of freedom for some). In the past people had a plausible reason to press people into cheap or free labor. What's our excuse?

TheDrake

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #96 on: March 03, 2017, 12:19:08 PM »
You guys keep acting like a requirement that one contributes to society in order to receive benefits from society is the same thing as slavery.  It's plausible that paying taxes makes one a slave, it's not plausible that you are only not a slave if you are free to contributing nothing and take what you need from others.  That makes who ever is actually doing the work a slave to the freeloader, since they have to give up the benefit of their efforts to provide that support.

I never equated it with slavery. I don't advocate that we suddenly employ forced taxation at the current date to make this happen.

I'm saying, who gives a crap if somebody freeloads if its not that big of an economic deal? The idea that you MUST work is one that deserves examination. This idea is predicated on the idea that everyone CAN work, which isn't true now (mental illness, physical disability) and is likely to become less true in the future as humans have less and less to offer.

We then have a choice to either kill them or support them. We can set them up to consider crime their only option, and eventually jail them at a higher cost than supporting them.

Damn freeloaders currently get the protection of police, sidewalks, libraries, courts... by god, if they don't work they shouldn't be able to walk down the street that somebody got TAXED to create!

This is a bizarre side of the argument for me to be on, I'm feeling woozy. I'm an Objectivist, and even I can see that out of personal values and egoism it can make sense to just let some people have food to eat.

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #97 on: March 03, 2017, 12:21:51 PM »
I'm saying, who gives a crap if somebody freeloads if its not that big of an economic deal?

[...]

This is a bizarre side of the argument for me to be on, I'm feeling woozy. I'm an Objectivist, and even I can see that out of personal values and egoism it can make sense to just let some people have food to eat.

No need to feel too woozy, this is essentially the thesis of Atlas Shrugged :)

TheDeamon

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #98 on: March 03, 2017, 01:24:34 PM »
So if no one works, and is just given American "standard" (or do you mean above standard), housing, food and transportation, where does this stuff come from?

Robot labor, or through funds raised through sale of goods produced by robot labor. Or what human labor exists despite the presence of robotic/automated services.

Quote
You guys keep acting like a requirement that one contributes to society in order to receive benefits from society is the same thing as slavery.

Not all of us. However, we are discussing a potential future outcome where the majority of humans no longer have any "meaningful labor to contribute" to the workforce. Because an automated option can do it better/faster/cheaper/in larger quantities.

Quote
It's plausible that paying taxes makes one a slave, it's not plausible that you are only not a slave if you are free to contributing nothing and take what you need from others.  That makes who ever is actually doing the work a slave to the freeloader, since they have to give up the benefit of their efforts to provide that support.

Which goes back to the whole premise being workers displaced wholesale from even skilled work by automated/robotic labor, not humans. Is the person really "doing the work" if he simply owns a small army of robots that maintain themselves, maintain inventory for him, and assembles and distributes everything that he is selling as a service or good?

This is where "natural rights" hits the wall against simple ethics. Through robotics and advanced AI, it is reaching the point that John Wayne for example could assemble a small army of robots, fire thousands of people, kick them out the door, replace them with said robots and AI system. And resume normal business operations and keep all profits to himself, while he spends his time living it up as the "playboy" Bruce Wayne.

He isn't producing anything, he's busy chasing super-models around the globe. It is his robots and automated systems that is making everything happen. And yet you're going to say "too bad" for those people who are unable to compete with the robots and say Wayne Enterprises has a "natural right" to 100% of the fruits of the labors of said robotic work force?

Quote
How do you reconcile the logical inconsistency in declaring someone a slave, unless others become that persons slave?

The modern-parlance is wage-slave. They aren't beholden to their employer, so much as they're beholden to their landlord, their grocer, and any other services they consume. As they're not "independently wealthy" that means they must work or go on welfare, as must virtually everyone else in the general population (trust funders are the exception, not the rule), which puts labor in the situation of being  a "buyers market" rather than a "sellers" which means the seller is typically going to take what they're offered.

Labor is becoming a commodity, and a fairly cheap one at that, aside from certain skill sets that haven't yielded well to automation at this time, but their time is coming. The other issue with many of those "niche" specialized jobs is they are high skill, high barrier to entry jobs. Jobs that also trend towards limited numbers. So everybody can't just retrain to work in those professions, because 1) The retraining cost would be godawful expensive, 2) Somebody would need to pay for it. 3) It would only put those jobs in a "surplus" condition, thus devaluing the job field as a whole. 4) The person may not be "naturally inclined" towards that line of work.

TheDrake

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Taxation of Robots
« Reply #99 on: March 03, 2017, 01:35:39 PM »
No need to feel too woozy, this is essentially the thesis of Atlas Shrugged :)

From Textbook of Americanism (and echoed in other works):

An individualist is a man who says: "I'll not run anyone's life – nor let anyone run mine. I will not rule nor be ruled. I will not be a master nor a slave. I will not sacrifice myself to anyone – nor sacrifice anyone to myself."

Rand didn't live in a world where no one could pick up a tab at a restaurant, even though nobody at that table "earned" a free meal. Sacrifice implies that you are unwilling, and that it creates material harm to yourself. Insisting that nobody else voluntarily give food to "deadbeats" is an attempt to rule and to run those two people's lives for them.