Raconteur

Robotics & Automation 2019

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R O B O T I C S & A U T O M A T I O N 10 For more information: www.hahn.digital KITOV Systems takes your end-of-line inspection to the next level: • Self-learning algorithms based on AI yield superior detection results. • Fast and intuitive set up. Ready to scan after a few hours only. • Multiple automation options available. KITOV Systems smart visual inspection is part of HAHN Digital's Service and Consulting portfolio. HAHN Digital supports customers in their digital transformation, enhancing their processes and products with innovative technologies. Boost your product quality with smart visual inspection ndustrial revolutions throughout history play out like this: repetitive and mundane jobs are automated by new technology, livelihoods evaporate, skills become obsolete, and in the pro- cess humans are compelled to retrain and find new work. Whether it's tex- tile workers or checkout assistants, lamplighters or petrol-pump attend- ants, automation shows little mercy. In the early-19th century, dur- ing the first industrial revolution, traditional jobs dried up, the labour share of income fell, while corporate profits surged, and the gap between the wages of the rich and poor skyrocketed. Today, we could be doing the time warp again as the third and fourth industrial revolutions take hold. "So far our age of automation largely mirrors the early days of industrialisation in economic terms. It took over half a century until average person saw the ben- efits of the Industrial Revolution trickle down," explains Carl Benedikt Frey, Oxford Martin Citi Fellow at Oxford University, in his new book The Technolog y Trap. This 50-year gap is called the Engels' pause, named after Karl Marx's friend Friedrich Engels, who described the dark satanic mills of industrialising England in the ear - ly-1800s. It was an era of great social and economic upheaval. Wage stag- nation and new technologies made only a few wealthy, while many angry Luddites raged against the machines, smashing machinery as it displaced labourers. Whether failure to tax robots indirectly subsidises automation remains contentious, but it is an issue that must be dealt with – sooner rather than later A question of robots and tax es P O L I C Y I Nick Easen If governments gloss over the social costs of automation, their credibility will diminish happy with how this new industrial revolution is turning out in terms of who benefits, mainly a handful of US tech giants. "We're in an era when those with capital have accrued tremendous benefits over those who engage in routine labour. That has fuelled income inequality and a popu - list backlash. We need to invest in the human future and make pol- icy changes that preserve opportu- nity for people of ordinary means," says Darrell West, founding direc- tor of the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings Institution. Already, super-star tech firms from Apple to Alphabet are labour frugal. At the same time the share of income now being pumped into cap- ital versus labour is on the rise. For corporations, this makes sense when labour is taxed rather than robots, artificial intelligence or digitalised services. Yet governments around the globe are mainly funded by taxes of real human workers through payroll and income. "When the call centre team is replaced by an automated system, the government loses out on the team's income taxes and National Insurance contributions by both the employees and employers," says Ryan Abbott, professor of law at the University of Surrey. "The government also loses money because the automated system is not generating a lot of the tax rev - enue people otherwise generate including VAT and property taxes. We are unintentionally subsidis- ing automation. If a business can replace a person with a machine, they receive tax benefits from doing so that makes automation appeal- ing even when it's not otherwise more efficient." Some economists say we're now in a new Engels' pause. There are no neo-Luddites smashing robots, but France's new digital tax on big companies, such as Facebook, Google and Amazon, and the UK's proposed levy are perhaps the first signs that governments aren't

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