The five traps making sense to tax robots

1. Working men of all countries, unite!

Isn’t it interesting to see how the project of taxing robots locks itself in the idea of replacement? This technological determinism leaves no space for alternate realities. It reveals a particular ideological dead angle. So, no matter what happens along their reasoning. This anchoring effect is so strong, it’s impossible to escape.

2. Terminator

The idea of “taxing robots” is particularly revealing a worldview. It says robots, not AI. These imaginaries are usually populated by mechanical and anthropomorphic robots. Where one humanoid robot replaces one worker. How can you fit Uber or the Blockchain in Asimov’s 1940s? Does it make any sense? The idea of taxing robots dangerously overshadows artificial intelligence and networked systems.

3. The elephant in the room

Have you noticed how today most debates play out when you try to corner anybody on about any topics? Where does it end up most of the time? A conspiracy! The 1% of the 1%. The Illuminati or whatever works out to make sense of the world at the biblical level. Our societies are undergoing massive shifts. And it is difficult to make sense of it. It has become the great global geopolitical game of propaganda. We know it’s easy to get trapped in the echo chamber of a filter bubble. And these contemporary myths are having a deeper impact on our collective ability to make sense of the world then we may think.

4. Flat earth maths

Remember the geocentrists? Based on their Ptolemaic vision, the earth was at the center of the universe. And despite their incorrect model, these scientists still had correct measurements. It wasn’t about scientific skills or experiments. It was about the organisation of their thinking allowing them to make sense of the universe. When system shifts, it is usually the entire model that flips, not an isolated part.

5. Political short-termism

If a company does not modernize its production system, it will not resist competition. And its factories will end up closing. We see it all too often. Taxing robots deters businesses from modernizing. It will preserve a few jobs in the short term but ends up the survival of the company in the long term.

When thinking about the next 20 years, how do we collectively make sense of change in our societies? How do we escape outdated worldviews and myths? How do we help policymakers make sense of complex automated systems of AIs? How do we fight fake news and ensure access to quality journalism to citizens? What mediums, what storytelling methods to help the public make sense of the shifts at play in the world? How do we escape the political status quo of elections and twitter soap opera?

Photography credits:

— Robot at sunset by Val D’Aquila / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
— Will it fit? by salendron / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0