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I'm surprised by the reaction here. It seems fairly intuitive to me. People used to capture part of the value creation with their wages and they are being replaced by robots. That value that used to circulate in the economy now just goes to owners (wealthiest section of society) instead of circulating. This just takes that same value back.

I don't know the best way to implement it, but I think it is necessary if you want to prevent wealth inequality from getting worse, faster over time.

Generally, the most efficient thing to tax is the thing you don't want.

What you are proposing is a good thing (greater efficiency) with a negative side effect (tilting economies towards the rich) but rather than tax the bad thing, you're taxing the good thing in order to reduce its negative side effect.

For whatever reason it seems like taxing robots is more socially acceptable than taxing the wealthy.

You really don’t want a couple million unemployed and unemployable citizens at your doorstep one day angry for why they suddenly can’t afford to live. You don’t want it as a government and you don’t want it as a company/corporation.

Back in the 60s, there was the joke that it'd be less expensive to just bribe the Vietnamese instead of fighting them.

Instead of dropping bombs they should have just dropped cigarettes, whiskey, magazines, food, clothing and a variety of American consumer goods.

> For whatever reason it seems like taxing robots is more socially acceptable than taxing the wealthy.

But these two often overlap. If any actual revolutionising automation by robots is coming, only the wealthiest corporations/people can and will afford it. As your parent poster said, robot tax is just trying to make sure that they won't hold on to their money under the mattress until the end of time. Redistribution of wealth is critically important.

I think there are at least two errors with your reasoning: one is that people don’t have inherent (economic) value that is captured by working for wages. If a robot does my job, why would I feel entitled to capture any value?

The second is the idea that the owners are less likely to circulate money in the economy than the employees. There’s no value to the owner in sitting on that money, so why would they?

First, it's not that they are 'entitled' to the value, it's that our entire economic model is based on continuous consumption. If vast swathes of the population have no way to get money because robots do the work and only the wealthiest capture the value, then it collapses because there is nobody with money to consume the goods produced.

Second, the point you're getting at is trickle down economics. Personally, I don't think it works.

Because robots are not taking the jobs away. Some of the wealthiest, biggest companies in the world have more employees than ever in spite of having the the most resources to invest in automation. Successful businesses tend to add people, not replace them. What automation does is allow people to be more productive but that is not the same as replacing people.

Exactly this. Until robots can entirely replace humans, there will still be the need for humans to do certain jobs. As robots become commoditized, companies will start to compete purely on the pieces that can't be automated, ie the human element and increase demand for human workers

All true, only those people will be probably 1000x less than all working people currently, due to highly specialised and manual and creative skills that not everyone would (or could) acquire. So this still doesn't seem to address the problem of a huge portion of humanity being displaced and left to live under a bridge.

That's not quite true.

If you took a single production line and replaced the workers with robots - then yes. Those workers have lost their jobs.

However if there was a second hypothetical production line that made a product that was now economically viable (or just cheaper) by partially automating it, then that's made more manual jobs available (maybe the line didn't exist before, or now as the product is cheaper, there can be two lines).

So you've still got people working - and you've now also got cheaper/new stuff for them to buy.

Watch making is a good example. Wherever you are on the planet, you can afford a watch - something that used to require incredible wealth. This is due to new tech and automation. Doesn't mean that nobody's handcrafting cogs with little files, just means that those watches are now only being bought by the wealthy.

In the current economical climate that seems to tilt more and more towards huge inequality (which is already a fact, mind you, it's just tilting even more in the same direction) I think we cannot afford to simply cross our fingers saying "oh well, maybe new jobs will magically appear". Yes it happened in the past, sure. That's not guaranteeing it will happen again this time around though.

It'll all work out overall - that's the defining concept of the system.

Whether it'll work out for individuals though - well the system doesn't care (and that again is a defining concept)

There are a lot of robots in agriculture for some time now ( just naming 2 : the tractor and the milking machine ).

What is different now?

Scale and artificial intelligence.

The scale of the automation/robotization of agri has been humongous.

And broad application of AI is nowhere near.

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