back to article Governments could introduce 'made by humans' tags - legal report

Human job quotas and labels which state services or products were explicitly "made by humans" are just some of the measures law-makers could consider in combating the displacement of jobs due to robotics, according to a report by the global forum for the legal profession. One-third of current jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree …

It seems more likely that governments will find a way of taxing robots labourers in a similar way to their human counterparts (maybe by taking the average salary of the human counterpart and using that as a basis for example).

5
0
Silver badge

The wheel spins

Hrm. What does that mean for the textile industry, with its armies of robot knitters, spinners and dyers that decimated the numbers of humans employed?

3
0
Silver badge
Thumb Down

How about a...

"Made by 10 to 14 year old girls in a third-world country under abysmal circumstances while being paid a pittance." tag or label ?

23
0
Silver badge

Child labour?

That happens less nowadays, and often less than alleged in the day of 8 and 16 bit PCs: children aren't particularly effective or reliable workers. This is probably an important factor in not having child labour.

2
3
Anonymous Coward

Re: Child labour?

Wrong, child labour / slavery is alive and well. 4 year olds mined the cobalt in your phone battery.

5
1
Silver badge

Re: Child labour?

"Wrong, child labour / slavery is alive and well. 4 year olds mined the cobalt in your phone battery."

Really? Care to prove that claim?

3
1

Re: Child labour?

Probably saw it on the bleeding heart piece sky news ran a couple of weeks back.

1
3

Re: Child labour?

@Polardog, is the Washington Post bleeding heart piece of sky news enough for you?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/03/03/apple-cracks-down-further-on-cobalt-supplier-in-congo-as-child-labor-persists/?utm_term=.469cdcacccdf

3
2
Silver badge
Facepalm

Re: Child labour?

Well if you paid a little attention (ad watching Sky is not a prerequisite despite the first link

http://news.sky.com/story/child-miners-firm-refuses-to-apologise-over-cobalt-sourcing-10785313

or

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/business/batteries/congo-cobalt-mining-for-lithium-ion-battery/

not sure why anyone uprooted you - a little check would have stopped you looking a fool as well

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Child labour?

@Sherrie

Why the down votes? An example of tourette's but exhibited through an index finger?

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Child labour?

Mining is a special case to use child labour, you can have smaller tunnels. You could use dwarfs if you have enough of them (i.e. seven).

Manufacturing electrical goods - not such a good case for child labour. e.g. your video player arrives from the factory with unwanted biscuits jammed in its orifices already. I think that's what we were talking about.

1
0
Silver badge

Illogical conclusion

If we take this to its illogical conclusion, where all jobs will be performed by machines, then there will be no consumers to generate demand for the products and services performed by those machines. Obviously, this doesn't make sense and isn't going to happen, at least whilst the motivation for producing goods and services is wealth.

Whilst wealth continues to be the motivation to providing goods and services then there must be a limit to the replacement of people by machines if consumers are going to be able to carry on purchasing.

So, at some point we'll either have to start not replacing people, even though, on the face of it, it might seem to be more economically sensible to do so, or entirely change the motivation and reasons for producing goods and services.

8
0
Silver badge

Re: Illogical conclusion

If all jobs can be done by machines, then we'll be entering a post-scarcity society and economics will already have begun to change in a fundamental way.

12
0
Silver badge

Re: Illogical conclusion

The motivation for companies is to make money - if that is more effective with robots/AI they will. What they never consider is who is paying customers, it is just assumed that if they lay off some staff, or out-source to some cheaper country, is has negligible impact on their profits as most customers are unaffected.

There is no "joined up thinking" of what happens when every other company has done the same in the pursuit of profit, but government will have to address this or face a very nasty melt-down of society.

11
2

Re: Illogical conclusion

If we take this to its illogical conclusion, where all jobs will be performed by machines, then there will be no consumers to generate demand for the products and services performed by those machines. Obviously, this doesn't make sense and isn't going to happen, at least whilst the motivation for producing goods and services is wealth.

The motive is to create wealth for themselves, not society. The company doesn't care how well society is performing as long as the company is doing OK.

It's only once the damage has been done that they'll be forced to think otherwise.

7
2
Silver badge

Re: Illogical conclusion

"It's only once the damage has been done that they'll be forced to think otherwise."

Not really. By then they'll have most of the wealth. They can close ranks, close the walled garden, and hash it out amongst themselves.

2
1

Re: post scarcity

There's no such thing as a post scarcity society. The work of the robots will be used to ease the lives of the already well-off while devaluing the resources the poor can give to society (i.e. their labour). The exact groups that are "well-off" and "poor" may change somewhat, but ultimately Economics is not an immutable consequence of Nature like physics or chemistry, but a man-made construct crafted to serve the powerful. Economics won't change until human nature does. Not any time soon.

9
2

Re: Illogical conclusion

"The motivation for companies is to make money - if that is more effective with robots/AI they will. What they never consider is who is paying customers, it is just assumed that if they lay off some staff, or out-source to some cheaper country, is has negligible impact on their profits as most customers are unaffected."

Or in other words, many companies nowadays see that the easiest way to increase profits is not to increase revenue but cut costs, not realising that cutting costs now will lead to lost revenue further down the line. But it's all OK because cost-cutting has effect now and lost revenue will be 5-10 years down the line so who cares, and most employees in the companies taking the decisions have vested interest in now, not 5-10 years in the future.

5
1

Re: Illogical conclusion @Charles 9

If the value of that wealth plummets then even the rich can end up being in trouble (just look at what happened in places like Zimbabwe when it suffered a financial collapse).

Even if that doesn't end up being the case you only need to look as far as countries like France & Russia to see what happens when the poor are pushed too far and for too long.

4
1
Silver badge

Re: Illogical conclusion @Charles 9

Some things have intrinsic wealth, like land (especially arable land; we gotta EAT). The richest of the rich know this, which is why most of their assets get turned into real estate. It's not only the most stable asset out there, but because its value is constantly mutable, it's hard to tax.

"Even if that doesn't end up being the case you only need to look as far as countries like France & Russia to see what happens when the poor are pushed too far and for too long."

Problem is this time, the State has a lot more resources with which to control the population. Think why the proles don't rebel in Nineteen Eighty-Four. There's the carrot-and-stick approach. Distract them with bread and circuses, and if that doesn't work, bring out the nukes.

1
1
Silver badge

Re: post scarcity

I'm not sure you understand what a post-scarcity society is. Our current economy is based on the notion of scarcity of resources by necessity, because resources are scarce - at least partly because there is still the requirement for direct human intervention in the gathering and processing of resources.

More than anything, the single limit on economic activity is energy supply. The greater the supply of energy a society has, the more it will automate, because automation is more efficient than using humans to do equivalent work.

If machines are capable of doing "all the work" - running an entire economy from primary to secondary to even tertiary industries, then those machines would by their very nature be capable of gathering resources in ways that are either impossible or very difficult for humans.

The more energy a society has, and consequently the more automation it engages in, the more resources it can gather. If a society has reached the point where it can automate everything, then it follows that such a society will have enough energy and automation to gather effectively unlimited resources. It will have enough energy to make routine journeys beyond earth in order to gather those resources, as that, too, is only a question of the application of sufficient quantities of energy.

A society with effectively unlimited energy, complete automation and the ability to gather effectively unlimited resources will inevitably transition to an entirely different economic model as a result of these things. Post-scarcity means simply that: there is no effective scarcity of resources, and with absolute automation it becomes nigh on impossible to artificially enforce scarcity. Without scarcity, traditional economic models break down.

Notice that I did not say it would become some sort of socialist paradise, just that the economics of a society that can completely automate its industries will be radically different from those we currently understand or abide by.

5
0
Silver badge

Re: Illogical conclusion @Charles 9

"real estate. It's not only the most stable asset out there, but because its value is constantly mutable, it's hard to tax."

Could you please tell that to my local council because they keep taxing me on it.

3
0

Re: Illogical conclusion

Right, but there's already no reason to have either accountants or lawyers, or even judges and managers, yet still they persist...

0
2
Silver badge

Re: Illogical conclusion @Charles 9

And can YOU tell that to Congress who insists on only taxing assets as they're sold, not as they're held, discouraging hoarding?

1
1

A Lesson from History

Hope it goes better than a previous such labelling initiative.

4
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: A Lesson from History

Don't be silly.

It worked perfectly by identifying higher quality imports from Germany. The failure was not improving the quality of local manufactures to match.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: A Lesson from History

Similarly seeing "made in china" on items didn't get people to buy locally made products.

Most people will just go to Walmart and buy their disposable crap products rather than spend a little more on something that will last 10 times longer.

2
0
Silver badge

Re: A Lesson from History

"Most people will just go to Walmart and buy their disposable crap products rather than spend a little more on something that will last 10 times longer."

The way things are, the more expensive things get abused more and end up wasted sooner. Cheap Walmart goods these days are being bought by penny-pinchers that eke out the most use out of their Chinese and secondhand goods. A bit like how Sam Vimes still preferred cardboard-sole boots (he liked the thin soles so he could orient himself by his feet).

3
0
Silver badge

Re: A Lesson from History

Got me on that one. I was expecting the not very missed "I'm backing Britain" campaign. Another one that fell flat on its face.

2
0
Silver badge

Re: A Lesson from History

Though Vimes also explained that this was one of the reasons why the rich stayed rich and the poor stayed poor.

The rich would buy one pair of good boots that would last a lifetime, meanwhile the poor could only afford cheap stuff that had to constantly be replaced and end up costing more than the good boots in the long run.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: A Lesson from History

I think that needs to be qualified, though. OLD expensive stuff, yes, because they were usually hand made custom jobs, sometimes with threats attached. Expensive stuff TODAY? I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of that "expensive" was really just bling.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: A Lesson from History

Depends on the supplier. Taking the boots example, I have (or had) two pairs for a comparable price of around £80: one from Clarks, one from some clothes store that I can't recall the name of.

The generic boots wore out in a year. The leather went in holes despite treatment, the soles split and revealed they were made of nothing but laminated cardboard dressed up to look like leather. The laces frayed and shredded after no time at all and had to be replaced twice.

The clarks boots are nearly ten years old and still going fine. I had to replace the soles because the tread had worn out, and one of the zip sliders had to be replaced because it had also worn out and wouldn't close properly, but the leather is still in decent nick and I don't see it breaking any time soon. I fully expect I'll still be using these shoes in another ten years.

It may seem that it's getting harder to find quality goods, but they're still out there.

Incidentally I also got a coat from the same clothes store. It's lasted me a very long time as well. The real problem is that there's no single, consistently good supplier.

2
0

Re: A Lesson from History

If it was only a little more I'd buy the higher quality item, But as things stand it is usually on the order of ten times more. Which is not just a little more. Those higher quality items are never 10 times better either. None of that matters because low price always wins. The bottom line is nothing matters but the bottom line.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: A Lesson from History

That goes to what I was saying. MODERN expensive goods are 90% bling (IOW inflated). Think iPhones versus good "imitations" from no-name companies. Apart from the name, what else are you getting spec-wise for all that markup?

0
0
Silver badge

One job they won't eliminate: rich tossers looking down on those with far less money than themselves. :/

4
1
Silver badge
Trollface

That's not a job - It's a hobby.

4
0
Silver badge
Trollface

That's not a hobby - it's a life choice

4
0
Trollface

That's not a life choice - it's a birthright

2
0
Silver badge
Trollface

That's not a birthright, it's an obligation.

3
0
Silver badge

How do they tag products made by humans using machines?

2
1
Silver badge

How do they tag products made by humans using machines?

Who do you jail once skynet starts telling the machines to add 'made by humans' tags to all their output?

0
0
Coat

Oops

And who will put the tags on? If a machine puts on the "made by humans" tag, won't the tag need a little disclaimer tag? Put on by a human, of course, otherwise there'd be no end to the tags.

An alternative version of the Shoe Event Horizon: the Von Neumann tag. Or the hegemonising tag-swarm.

Mine's the one made by humans, covered in tags...

0
0
Silver badge

The extra 0's on the price tag will give it away

1
0
Silver badge

How much has to be made by humans?

like a machine made garment with a hand-sewn made-by-human tag?

5
0
Silver badge

Re: How much has to be made by humans?

Is that like Made In The UK, which means all the parts were stuck in the box here.

4
0
Silver badge

Re: How much has to be made by humans?

Ahh I remember, there was a similar (possible linked campaign to support British motor manufacturers. It was such a shame that at the time they powers that be decided that ring the problem, crap QA compounded by awful QC, was easier than fixing the underlying problems.

0
0
M7S
Silver badge
Black Helicopters

"governments will have to decide what jobs should be performed exclusively by humans."

Somehow I expect that politician or civil servant will mysteriously not make the list....

3
0
Silver badge
Facepalm

Re: "governments will have to decide what jobs should be performed exclusively by humans."

Remember that most Politicians are Lawyers. Do you honestly think that they'd pass laws that would put their own kind out of work?

Please.... Get real....

6
0
Anonymous Coward

My guess is that they'll discover that robots can do, say, 80% of a job done by a person, so they will re-define the job to exclude the extra 20%. At first this will seem to work, but in the end they will end up with less functional robot-made products and services, at which point the response will be to outlaw the more capable person-made alternatives as "unsafe", "unhygienic", etc.

1
0
Silver badge

Seriously - who started this hyperbolic ride into mediacracy? (SWIDT)

Until they perfect robotic Checkout assistants, I will continue to laugh at the predictions falling within the next 20 years.

Oh and BTW Asda - I dont' give a monkeys. If you are open at a sensible time in the morning, which you are, and let me shop, which you do, and want to take my money, which you certainly do, I DON'T WANT TO PUT A TROLLYFULL OF SHOPPING THROUGH SELF SERVICE.

And the assistant stating that they don't start the tills till 9 - that an ASDA policy? You wonder why you are losing to Aldi and Lidl.

I'm not an angry man. Really, I am not. *sob*

10
0

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2017