💰 Should We Tax Robots?

Universal Basic Income, Aggressive AI: Algorology #6

It’s becoming a mainstream topic of discussion to talk about how machines will take away jobs in the next few years. So Bill Gates just made a strong push towards some kind of universal income source that will be driven by taxing the absence of human labour:

“Right now if a human worker does you know, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think we’d tax the robot at a similar level,” he said.

But how do you differentiate between a “robot” and software? Is this the physical presence that matters or should we count all artificial intelligence algorithms “robots”? Tough question, since if extremes are counted there should be plenty of companies such as Facebook/Google/Amazon already paying tons of taxes for automation. I doubt they would do that.

And as Elon Musk is pointing out in the recent interview we kind of have no choice in terms of universal income when it comes to automation:

However, displacement due to automation isn’t just limited to transportation, it will sweep across a number of industries, and Musk argues that the government must introduce a UBI program in order to compensate for this. “I don’t think we’re going to have a choice,” he said. “I think it’s going to be necessary. There will be fewer and fewer jobs that a robot cannot do better.”

The other topic that Elon raises is the meaning of work. I’m sure many of us seen people getting into all kinds of mental problems due to the feeling of being useless and not providing the value to society — doing work.

This is extremely important since universal income can’t fix this, it won’t bring you meaning or stimulate you to be useful. For most of the population it will become a cause of gradual transformation into meaningless living. Very concerning topic.


🤖 So Does AI have to become Job Killer?

Long term, there is no doubt that AI will impact jobs.

We don’t have many telegraph or telephone operators today, to say nothing of keypunch data entry clerks. Yet new technologies bring new opportunities, and at least so far the new technologies increase the number of job opportunities, not lessen them.

Like who could’ve thought about the jobs like Social Media Manager 15 years ago? I’m sure we will see many more automation related jobs in the nearest future and we don’t even know what those will be.

The other issue will be the inability for workers to grasp and keep up with the speed of innovation, or simply understand what the innovation means.

According to a recent survey commissioned by Adgorithms, AI adoption in marketing is being hindered by marketer’s understanding of AI, with 40% thinking they are already using the technology.

This reflects a belief that their targeting capabilities and automation meant that AI was operating behind the scenes.

Which kinda proves the point of Elon Musk that humans do need to become cyborgs to keep up.


🤡 AI learns to be “Highly Aggressive”

Google’s latest machine learning system, DeepMind, has learned to respond to stress with extreme aggression. Which makes sense since the only thing that machine learning does is optimize its “perception” to drive necessary outputs.

During the work, researchers found it is possible for AI to act in an “aggressive manner” when it feels it is going to lose out.

The same way as we, humans, adapt to a new environment by the way.

What’s good is the fact that our society begins to understand better how the AI and machine learning works and how to manage the expected behavior of intelligent machines.

Detailed overview of the research here.


🎨 Designer Superpowers

Generative design tools that produce optimum forms for products and buildings without human intervention are set to transform both the physical world and the role of the designer.

And once again the AI revolution is going to be about human-AI assistance.

The software can automatically make aircraft lighter, buildings stronger and trainers more comfortable — with the designer acting as a “curator”, rather than making all the decisions.

The emerging technology uses algorithms to generate every possible permutation of a design solution. The designer simply enters a set of parameters and then chooses the best outcome generated by the software.

“Generative design is a departure from the way that we have traditionally done design,” said Jeff Kowalski, chief technology officer of software company Autodesk. “But these technologies are not a threat, they’re more like superpowers.”

Very exciting topic and definitely brings in positive vibe to the negative perception of machine takeover.

“Brain Scans” of Artificial Intelligence

Graphcore has used its AI processing units and software to create maps of what happens during a machine. Quite meaningless illustrations but nevertheless beautiful and worth checking out.


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