As of now, artificial intelligence is nowhere near as aware or as competent as a human. Heck, even the most powerful supercomputers lack the consciousness of a small animal. We don’t even know if computers are capable of achieving rudimentary consciousness. But that hasn’t stopped the European Union from proposing a law that would define robots as “electronic persons.”
A motion was recently proposed in the EU parliament that would ask the European Commission to consider “that at least the most sophisticated autonomous robots could be established as having the status of electronic persons with specific rights and obligations.” The reason for this idea, however, has less to do with establishing rights for machines that may or may not become sentient someday, and more to do with money.
The EU fears that as automation proliferates, it’s going to leave more people without a job. And that of course would mean fewer tax dollars going to the government. The plan would force companies to declare how much money they saved by switching to robots, which would determine the amount of money they have to contribute to social security funds. In other words, the EU wants companies to pay social security for robots, hence the reason why they need robots to be defined as “electronic persons.”
Obviously this makes no sense. Imagine if after the tractor was invented, farmers had to pay an income tax in the tractor’s name, in order to make up for all the field workers who were laid off. Or if after the computer was invented, offices had to keep paying social security for the file clerks who were laid off. Or just insert any labor-saving device that has ever been invented into this scenario, and see if it still makes sense. Even if robots in the future are as smart and aware as humans, it still wouldn’t make sense, because in that case they could demand wages, and would have to pay taxes like the rest of us.
It just doesn’t make any sense because all this policy will do is subsidize human labor that is no longer necessary. It will force superfluous costs on private companies, and kill their competitive edge on the global marketplace.
Granted, robots may be scary since we can’t imagine what kinds of jobs will replace the ones that are eliminated by automation, but those are the same fears that we’ve had for generations. Humanity has not only endured more than two centuries since the industrial revolution, we have thrived in the wake of wave after wave of new labor-saving inventions. This time around won’t be any different.
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The only thing this measure serves is the wasteful and bureaucratic European Union, whose member states are brimming with unpayable debts. They simply don’t know how to keep their socialized welfare systems funded, so they’re going to refer to robots as people and start taxing their nonexistent wages. The EU expects private businesses to pretend that inanimate pieces of machinery are people, so they can extract more money from the private sector for the most asinine reason imaginable. Clearly, bureaucrats and socialists are not afraid to stoop to any intellectual low if it means propping up their wasteful system.