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Ted180 Post time: 2017-10-29 11:27
I agree with Turner. The solution will be to tax the value of the production of the machines and tra ...
tax the value of the production of the machines and transfer part of it to the lower-income humans as a guaranteed income
In principle I agree that if a robot takes a human's job (and the state loses the income tax of that person), it should be replaced by taxing the robot - unless we could assume that the human will 100% find a new job (without in turn taking it from someone else), in which case the robot does increase net productivity of the state in a positive way. Should it be the employers' responsibility to retrain the human to some new work that he can do?
As for guaranteed income (or basic income), my home country Finland is doing a limited experiment with this, in form of testing whether such guaranteed income (targeting solely unemployed persons) is more cost-efficient than supporting the same individuals through various bureaucratic means that they can apply (and which they would lose if they get a job).
In that experiment this is not considered, but in wider scheme the expectation of course is that having a basic income from the state would activate people to find work or create business of their own more effectively than paying them for being unemployed.
Finland's experiment is mainly measuring the cost of providing state support regardless of what the targets of that support do or don't end up doing - but I hope they also take a loot at whether the people's activity increases.
One thing to consider with robots, is that robots do not need to follow globally varying regulations about work hours, lunch breaks, work safety, etc. Unlike humans, robots everywhere in the world will be on the same page. A robot making pots in Europe is no better off from from a robot making pots in China.
If both robots perform the same task on same norms, but Chinese robot only gets taxed 10% while European robot needs to be taxed 20% to support the humans in more expensive society, where would that lead? Will robots also disappear to low-cost countries just like their human precedessors? Or to places where electricity to run them is cheaper - perhaps at expense of environment.
At least with humans, if your job went from Europe to China (for example), you could expect that the person doing it there would have worked longer days than you did, didn't have same kind of services from the state that you had, and generally was worse off and as such perhaps deserved the job more. But can you say that with a robot?
So I think that taxing robots is only a half-way solution - we may face many similar problems as with humans.