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 …

  1. Vimes

    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).

    1. Daggerchild 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?

  2. malle-herbert 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 ?

    1. Robert Carnegie 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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Child labour?

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

        1. Charles 9 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?

          1. Polardog

            Re: Child labour?

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

            1. Sherrie Ludwig

              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

              1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

                Re: Child labour?

                @Sherrie

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

          2. BebopWeBop 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. Robert Carnegie 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.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    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.

    1. Graham Dawson

      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.

      1. Spoobistle

        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.

        1. Graham Dawson

          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.

    2. Paul Crawford 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.

      1. jmch 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."

        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.

    3. Vimes

      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.

      1. Charles 9 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.

        1. Vimes

          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.

          1. Charles 9 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. Doctor Syntax 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.

              1. Charles 9 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?

    4. yoganmahew

      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...

  4. Ralph B

    A Lesson from History

    Hope it goes better than a previous such labelling initiative.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    2. Blank Reg

      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.

      1. Charles 9 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).

        1. Blank Reg

          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.

          1. Charles 9 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.

            1. Graham Dawson

              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. PaulFrederick

        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.

        1. Charles 9 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?

    3. Doctor Syntax 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.

  5. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

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

    1. Swarthy Silver badge
      Trollface

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

      1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
        Trollface

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

        1. en.es
          Trollface

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

          1. Graham Dawson
            Trollface

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

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    How do they tag products made by humans using machines?

    1. 's water music 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?

    2. sebt
      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...

  7. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

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

  8. Len Goddard

    How much has to be made by humans?

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

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      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.

      1. BebopWeBop 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.

  9. M7S
    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....

    1. Steve Davies 3 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....

  10. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  11. m0rt 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*

    1. IanRS

      Do you mean mean mediacracy (which is presumably a society led by tabloids) or mediocracy (a society led by the mediocre)? And is there a difference?

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        I think it's both: a society of the mediocre being led by mainstream media mind control.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      So what happens when EVERY store transitions to this and ONLY has self-checkouts (or the only human checkout has a line going to the back)? Walmart, Kroger, Home Depot, and Lowe's all do self checkout. Best Buy is the only big-box I know that doesn't do it, but that's likely due to the nature of the products they sell.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ASDA

      My local one opens at 08:00. Tesco's is 24hours and Sainsbury's opens at 07:00 and to shop at ASDA you have to pay to park (£2.20 minimum) Why would you want to shop there?

      I only went there because I was out on the bicycle and it was on my way home. They don't charge for parking (yet)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ASDA

        For that matter, who wants to get up jet lag early to shop? Show me a store that's open well after midnight, with free parking. I don't really care about the kind of checkout.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: ASDA

          For that matter, who wants to get up jet lag early to shop?

          The people finishing a 10pm - 6am shift...although doing it before going to bed, rather than getting up early.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: ASDA

          "I don't really care about the kind of checkout."

          But it gets to be a drag putting a lot of shopping through in batches of 3 - which, IME, is about as many as you be reasonably sure of getting through a self-service till without it deciding that something's wrong.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: ASDA

            Interesting.

            In a well run store, the number of errors is quite low, and there is an attendant who can clear problems in seconds from a central station. Most of the time I buy my food, hardware, gasoline, and various other products at a self-operated POS.

            Your problem may be less with the type of checkout and more with a poor implementation.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: ASDA

              Plus, most people using the self check-out would probably qualify for the Express lane (if it was open and not running to the back). They scan a few things, pack up and go. A minute of effort to beat a wait of several minutes at the checkout is a win for them. And before you say hire more cashiers, that would raise the labor costs which would in turn be passed to the customer: another trade-off.

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: ASDA

              "Your problem may be less with the type of checkout and more with a poor implementation."

              IME it's all of them although the record is held by one that told me to remove an item from the bagging area when there wasn't even one there.

              1. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

                Re: ASDA

                My prize one was a medium-capacity self-checkout, complete with a conveyor to a bagging area. The conveyor was triggered by weight, and would rewind if it thought you had put more items on the conveyor than you had scanned.

                It would also rewind if someone's inadequately-supervised brat (seated in a trolley at the next checkout) reached over through the non-existent barrier and bashed the conveyor.

                Other retail checkout innovations of short duration include the Grand Union supermarket in Endicott NY, which in 1983 or so introduced voice-synth announcement of the prices of items as the cashier scanned them. It lasted about three months. I'm not sure why they dropped it - was it because all the voices sounded the same so you couldn't tell which till had spoken, or because the disembodied and clearly artificial voices were spooking people?

                1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                  Re: ASDA

                  If it was 1983, probably the latter, as voice synth tech was still pretty new (think the early talking videogames like Berzerk and the Votrax SC-01). Even today, using recorded voices and concatenation, the results still come out a touch weird sometimes.

                  1. m0rt Silver badge

                    Re: ASDA

                    To comment on a few points:

                    It was 08:20 in the morning. I would get 05:00, or even 07:00.

                    Self service is great for a few items. But when you have a trolly full, and every other item struggles, or unexpected item in the baggage area, then have to wait for the member of staff to correct it...

                    Also, for those that state staff costs etc...really? Service is just about that. If ASDA are losing money that they don't have someone on the Tills at sensible times then ASDA have got a bigger problem than staff costs.

                    FTR - their choice is crap, and the quality is rather lacking. I went to a Tesco in Ruthin the other day and was blown over at how much better this smaller Store was in this relatively smaller populated area than the 'superstore' I normally go to and wear out a pair of shoes walking around to do a normal shop.

                    Oh and another thing, I find it amusing that this particular thread went on for so long...:) cheers for participating. It causes me to feel less, well, 'special'.

                2. BebopWeBop Silver badge
                  Devil

                  Re: ASDA

                  @Nick Kew

                  Or maybe the announcement "Two packets of condoms, size small" was a little off-putting?

    4. Nick Kew Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      mediocracy

      I coined that more than a decade ago. Glad to see others using it.

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: mediocracy

        I think an author called Honore de Balzac beat you to it by, what 100 years - better luck next time

  12. Buttons

    What to do with the unemployed?

    I often wonder what they'll do with the 7 billion + humans when the majority is out of work.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What to do with the unemployed?

      "They" will have to do nothing. It's up to the 7,000,000,000 individuals involved to make their own choices about what they feel like doing.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: What to do with the unemployed?

        ""They" will have to do nothing. It's up to the 7,000,000,000 individuals involved to make their own choices about what they feel like doing."

        Oh? What about when it comes time to find a way to earn their daily bread and nothing's available? Kinda harsh to be telling 7 billion people, "You lose. Game Over. Better luck next life."

      2. Rattus Rattus

        Re: What to do with the unemployed?

        "make their own choices"? With what funds or resources? You can bet the owning class won't share just because they're asked nicely.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: What to do with the unemployed?

      There will probably still be a large market for techie types.... Building the machines, maintaining them, etc.

    3. 404 Silver badge

      Re: What to do with the unemployed?

      Nothing a war won't take care of - if we stick to traditional methods.

    4. 's water music Silver badge

      Re: What to do with the unemployed?

      I often wonder what they'll do with the 7 billion + humans when the majority is out of work.

      Soylent green.

  13. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    Ban JCBs

    They take the jobs of 10 men digging with shovels, or 100 men digging with teaspoons.

    That's the logic of this report.

    Actually, the real reason for it was reported in the Grauniad:

    Even some lawyers risk becoming unemployed. “An intelligent algorithm went through the European Court of Human Rights’ decisions and found patterns in the text,” the report records. “Having learned from these cases, the algorithm was able to predict the outcome of other cases with 79% accuracy ... According to a study conducted by [the auditing firm] Deloitte, 100,000 jobs in the English legal sector will be automated in the next 20 years.”

    I.e. the lawyers who rip off the public with exorbitant fees are sweating and want the lawyers who sit in Parliament to ensure they're featherbedded for life.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Ban JCBs

      "“Having learned from these cases, the algorithm was able to predict the outcome of other cases with 79% accuracy ... "

      Lawyers will love that. Appeals are so much more lucrative.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fundamentally, the only way we all get richer in any real sense is by improving productivity.

    As another poster has noted, full automation has the potential to move to a post scarcity economic model where work becomes truly optional, and where we all get richer as the automation improves.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "becomes truly optional, and where we all get richer as the automation improves."

      ha ha ha ha haaaa haaaaaa

      Have you missed all the reports about poor getting poorer and the rich getting richer?

      Here let me help:

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35339475

      https://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/nov/13/us-wealth-inequality-top-01-worth-as-much-as-the-bottom-90

      1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        haha ha. Grow up. Stop reading the Graun's newspaper arm and watching its broadcasting arm if you want actual information.

    2. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
      Terminator

      Quote:As another poster has noted, full automation has the potential to move to a post scarcity economic model where work becomes truly optional, and where we all get richer as the automation improves.

      Another clueless dreamer

      What will actually happen is us meatbags will be put out of work to ensure profits either stay the same or rise.

      The people that own the robotic equipment wont care that the machines do 100 people's jobs, they're being made richer.

      Of course every company will do that resulting in about 1 in 50 of us actually having to work, and about 250 people owning the means of production, while the rest of us are unemployed, stuck in a sink estate with no hope of our lives ever changing

      I'd give it 25 yrs before the machine owners are strung up or subjected to the 'national razor' (along with their lick spittle apologists)

      The solution is simple, a national minimum income paid by the government to everyone that ensures we all get a decent level of living, of course there will still be poor folks because some will piss the money away on beer, fags and betting shops, but the majority will be free to do as they like, some will get themselves educated, some will travel, and some like me (much to my neighbours relife) will get guitar lessons.

      But that all another dream that will be throughly blocked because the rich bastards not only own the means of production, but the media and the lawmakers too................

      Anyway... I'll have a job... as will most of the IT skilled folks reading this... as who'll fix the robots/software when they break?............

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "The solution is simple, a national minimum income paid by the government to everyone that ensures we all get a decent level of living"

        Nonsense, born of doctrine shackled thinking and poor analysis skills, compounded with an ignorance of history. It will never work, as in 'doomed to failure'.

        First of all, governments cannot give what they do not take, and they have a horrible lack of efficiency in such things.

        Second, poverty, or conversely, a 'decent standard of living' is invariably defined as 'less than X, calculated in comparison with current incomes'. Some calculations even consider everyone receiving less than the median wage as 'poor'. The definition precludes elimination of poverty... poverty is a guaranteed growth segment. Today's 'poor' live better than most kings did several hundred years ago, when the wealth was concentrated in the top .0001 percent.

        If you want to give everyone access to reasonable wealth, get rid of state supported monopolies, whether explicitly designated or propped up by such travesties as patents, copyright, and laws against copying goods. If everyone can make what they want or need, then we are on the path to universal wealth.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          "If everyone can make what they want or need, then we are on the path to universal wealth."

          That's assuming everyone CAN make what they want or need. Trouble is, in the future, many will lack the skills, the rest will lack the resources. Making things requires BOTH, and NEITHER are guaranteed, and there's no way the haves will EVER let the governments take their wealth away. They can either move or usurp the government, and if the proles rise up, call out the killer drones; if that doesn't work, nukes.

          1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

            And RE: Universal Income: It sounds OK in abstract, but in reality levels of educational achievement, drug addiction, violence and other antisocial behaviors are pretty horrible in the children of non-working parents. People need to have a purpose beyond what is on the television.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "That's assuming everyone CAN make what they want or need. Trouble is, in the future, many will lack the skills, the rest will lack the resources."

            And in the days when people had to make or grow what they used* their standard of living was limited by just that.

            *Which more or less equates to wanted or needed. If they survived then arguably they got what they needed and they probably didn't want iPhones because they didn't know such things were possible.

        2. PaulFrederick

          You can make what you want, or need. You just cannot distribute it to others. There is nothing in patent law that stops anyone from reproducing anything for their own use. What you can't do is compete in the marketplace with protected IP. That is profiting off another's work. If you support that then we must agree to disagree.

      2. Polardog

        Robots will fix themselves.

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      As another poster has noted, full automation has the potential to move to a post scarcity economic model where work becomes truly optional, and where we all get richer as the automation improves.

      Numerous SF novels/stories have been written about such societies were machines do all the work and the populous benefits with unlimited free time. As I recall, it usually didn't end well.

      Humans need challenges and purpose. Be it going to the moon or Mars or just getting up everyday to go to work and pay some bills. We need the day to day challenges...

  15. WibbleMe

    Well my job wont be take, Im an artist that welds Robots together and sell them as art

    1. Evil Auditor Silver badge
      Trollface

      My robot does the same. Sorry.

      Or, do you mean, you are an artist and hence do not have a job?

  16. Nick Kew Silver badge

    April 1st lasts a long time ...

    My first thought was the image of Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times. But we can do better than that ...

    The Luddites had a problem with machines taking their jobs, but you knew that already.

    They too were seemingly blind to the fact that their jobs also relied on machines. Then as now or in Chaplin's time, the advance of technology served to make society richer.

    Oh, and that's especially the poor getting richer. They had so much more to gain, right up to the point where now almost everyone has not merely running water, but use of an indoor bathroom (which as recently as times in my childhood, I didn't).

    Happy to say, my kitchen and household appliances today are worth at least a couple of servants. Yet somehow these robots haven't put anyone out of work, 'cos I couldn't have afforded the servants in the first place. Not even without encumbrances like minimum wage.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: April 1st lasts a long time ...

      Thing was, the 20th Century still had room to grow (the population was a fraction of today and lots of resources were still being discovered), plus a couple major wars and a pandemic thinned the population and provided more space. Now, the circumstances are different. The post-war baby boom is coming home to roost, resources are trickier to get, and we haven't had an inequality of wealth of this scale since before the Black Death.

  17. kmac499

    Just did a quick stock check of the House robots.

    Timers in the Tv recorders, Timers and multi period Thermostat on the Heating, Clothes Washer Bot, Dish Washer Bot, Pre programmed ovens micro and macro? Answer-Bot machine on the phone, Bean to Cup Coffee machine (Barista Bot)?

    Plus assorted remote controls, alarm clocks, pir light switches etc..then there's the computer stuff and the missuss embroidery-bot sewing machines .

    IOT?? No thanks I'm too busy manging this lot.

  18. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    Label

    I'd rather have a Made By Robots label or one that states Made Without Human Interaction to be sure that no filthy meatbag ever touched before my new, shiny [whatever].

  19. Warm Braw Silver badge

    One-third of current jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree can be performed by machines

    That may say more about our current enthusiasm for sending everyone to university than it does about the rise of the machine.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One-third of current jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree can be performed by machines

      "That may say more about our current enthusiasm for sending everyone to university than it does about the rise of the machine."

      And the attendant lowering of standards and requirements.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Land Value Tax

    Land Value Tax - tax land according to the economic value of it to an "owner". Don't tax income, employment, spending. Farmland tax rate would be tiny but near an economic centre (London) - higher tax. The government build a new piece of infrastructure that adds value, tax goes up (eg transport).

    Ideally also a Citizen's Income, but LVT would solve so many problems. How much corruption involves cheap land being sold to associates, planning permission etc?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Land Value Tax

      The problem with taxing asset value is that it's all relative. Food may not seem much to you, but to a starving person it may be worth his shirt. One person may value the land much more than another. And so on. That's why they normally wait until it is sold or transferred and tax it there, because the transaction attaches a value to the asset.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Land Value Tax

        "That's why they normally wait until it is sold or transferred and tax it there, because the transaction attaches a value to the asset."

        A few days ago my annual council tax bill landed on the doormat. It's based on some nominal valuation of the property. This may not be normal where you live but it's normal here.

      2. null void

        Re: Land Value Tax

        You tax land, not food, not shares.

        And specifically the economic usefulness of land to the owner. ie moorland - virtually zero (zero if right to roam allowed?).

        By exclusively using land you prevent others from using that land. Former farmland with planning permission may be worth 100 (probably more) times as much as the farmland was.

        What has changed? Who reaps the economic windfall? Who received a bribe to help?

        Valuation - Land Valuation Office used to do it well and routinely until they were stopped. Rental values can be used, but many countries did or do it well.

        Otherwise lots of mechanisms - how's this for a fun one? Self set your own tax and let anyone buy the asset at a multiple of the tax you pay....

        Council tax is banding into bands with upper limits. It's contrived. A Westminster mega-mansion pays a bit more than an average bod

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Land Value Tax

          Land value due to usefulness can still fluctuate. Sometimes suddenly if discoveries are made. For example, what's to stop some barren tract of land from hiding a gold vein, a Kimberlite pipe, or a shallow source of petroleum?

  21. 404 Silver badge

    Space Exploration/Colonization

    Would have no end of volunteers - folks bored to tears without any kind of goals/interests.

    I'd go - even though I can be air-dropped anywhere on earth and get a job.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Without machines replacing people there are a lot of things you would no longer have:

    - more than one set of clothes

    - inexpensive telephone calls

    - enough food to eat (at the current population)

    - freedom from dawn to dusk farm work for 90% of the population.

    - portable consumer electronics

    - inexpensive home electronics

    - inexpensive books (yes, the rise would make present books look free)

    - libraries

    - rapid traffic flow (try replacing traffic lights with humans and see how well that goes in most cities, or, for that matter, fixed cycle lights with variable timed lights)

    - safe air travel

    - accurate marine navigation

    - food quality / safety control

    - inexpensive petroleum products

    ... and so on...

    'inexpensive' in this context means 'what we pay now'

  23. Adrian 4 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Discrimination

    What is it with this need to discriminate. These plans sound so much like the abuse of black workers in the 40s/50s. They're just creating a problem that will mature when the robots become sufficiently intelligent to understand the discrimination and object.

    Learn from history and give respect to whoever's doing the work. Don't look for someone to despise.

  24. Conundrum1885

    Re. recycling

    Irony: the "cheap" electronic tat is actually easier to recycle using machines.

    On the other hand, there will still be a market for some human labour eg dismantling the equipment to feed PCBs into the deconstructor (tm) so the individual parts can be tested and reused.

    For example many older pre-monolith TVs are remarkably high in useful materials such as white LEDs and the expensive rare earths in the speakers, high precision glass, plastics etc.

    Even the panels can be recycled if intact and there is a market for "70% recycled" TVs with OLED backlights or some other innovation.

    Just spent a morning fixing one, had two failed LEDs in the panel but its possible to replace them if you have a box of salvaged diodes in this case rescued from a broken outdoor security light.

    Probably better than the original and should last a comparable amount of time and for my purposes a new panel would be a complete waste,

  25. Polardog

    Just who will be the consumers, the 1%?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Yup. Worse comes to worse, they can just close the walled garden and hash it out amongst themselves. As long as there's at least "two to tango", mutual commerce can still take place.

  26. Alan Brown Silver badge

    High value targets

    Automation will target "high value" jobs, not low value ones.

    Lawyers, bankers, etc are _more_ at risk than ditch diggers, because the potential savings are higher and because the lion's share of mechanising/automating unskilled work has already been done.

    It used to be that "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer" but at the same time the number of rich people was steadily increasing. It's about to become "the rich become considerably fewer and the middle classes cease to exist"

    Remaining manual labour jobs are likely to be the last to be automated, simply because they're the most expensive to automate compared to the return on investment. Expect to see a massive rise in low paid services jobs making the existing transition to a services economy look small.

    The interesting question becomes what happens when AI has an IQ of 10,000 vs a human with 100. Will it grumble about having a brain the size of a planet and only being allowed to open doors (source: obvious) or will it start regarding us as....."pets" (Source: Asimov's Univac short stories)

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: High value targets

      The way I see it, there are two obstacles to machines taking over every job at this time: dexterity and Uncanny Valley.

      Some jobs require not just fine motor control but also simultaneous adaptability (such as a position where no two jobs are the same). The first problem is being worked on steadily with more articulate mechanics, but the second one goes to machine learning and will be more difficult to apply in a generic form.

      And then there's the natural human instinctual desire to see a friendly face (we have pretty strong evidence this is instinct since the behavior is shown even in newborns). If a job requires (or even just highly recommends) a face-to-face interaction, then it'll naturally prefer a human in it to provide that face.

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