Robots can do many incredible things for you. Because of advances in Artificial Intelligence and other technologies, robots are becoming more skillful at providing amazing services to make you more productive, safer, or just to entertain you. In the realm of the Internet of Things, robots, drones, and other intelligent devices are increasingly interacting with each other to perform work, sidestepping humans. Robots are becoming omnipresent. The impact of robotics will change our society, including transacting and tipping these machines for services resulting in a new digital economic system.
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But to reap to the fullest extent the immense benefits that robots bring to society, we need, among other things, a modern digital monetary system with programmable money that is not controlled and manipulated by humans. In other words, expensive, slow, antiquated fiat currencies may not be adequate. Therefore, we need to integrate robots with the innovative power of Bitcoin and its blockchain. And, we need to visualize the future to discover and create fantastic new applications and business opportunities.
Tipping Robots with Bitcoins
Robots are here to stay. For the period 2015-2018, sales projections “indicate an increase to about 152,375 units with a value of US$19.6 billion,” says the International Federation of Robotics.
Robots can make your life comfortable, safe, efficient, and fun. For example, a robot can zip the zipper of your dresses, pants, and jackets. KUKA can play ping-pong against you, and other robots can amuse you by doing magic tricks. Let’s not forget Mother, who “measures how well you brush your teeth, knows how much you drink and watches you when you sleep.”
Similarly, robots can do the dirty work for you. Ecovacs Robotics offers you a variety of robots that can perform many tasks, such as cleaning your floor, and washing your windows, mirrors, and doors.
Robots can have feelings too. As a matter of fact, robots showing human emotions are becoming very popular. SoftBank Robotics Corporation reports that “Pepper,” an endearing social robot, recognizes, reacts to, and shows human emotions. Last December, a thousand Pepper units were sold in the first minute.
In Japan, at Henn-na Hotel, the main staff consists of robots. And, in China, at Café Nignbo, robots take the orders and serve the tables.
As a result, some are wondering whether we should tip a waiter robot. Yes, you must tip robots, say technology reporter Quinten Plummer. In addition, author Kayleigh Kulp would like to know how much you should tip a robot bartender. On the other hand, in some Chinese restaurants, robot waiters do not expect to be tipped, according to Time.
However, Michael Moffa argues for tipping robots. In his article “Robotipping: Good Reasons to Tip a Robot,” he explains why tipping robots makes good sense. One of his main arguments is that tips provide a source of welfare funds for displaced workers.
So, robots and their interactions with humans are evolving. If, in the future, you are satisfied with the services your robot provides, you might conceivably find a reason to tip your robot. For example, perhaps you would like to show your robot gratitude for a job well done by rewarding it with a few satoshis.
Or, you may wish to incentivize your robot to learn new skills by giving it a few satoshis. A satoshi is the smallest fraction of a bitcoin and is equal to a hundredth of a millionth bitcoin.
In this connection, Professor Alexander Stoytchev says that a robot should not depend exclusively on a human programmer after it is purchased. “It must be trainable.” He adds, “A truly useful personal robot [must have] the ability to learn on its own from interactions with the physical and social environment,” as quoted by Scientific American.
Robots, Financial Transactions, Taxes, & Bitcoin
To maximize your robot’s financial advantages, you can consider leasing your robot. Also, because robots can work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, when your robot is idle, you could lend it to your neighbors. Each neighbor could pay a fraction of the cost of the robot at a pay per use rate. Or, if the robot participates as a team member with other robots to do work, a pro-rated Bitcoin-based micropayment could be charged.
Developers, using Bitcoin’s blockchain, can create products that accurately track and store robots’ data. Also, as robots interact with other intelligent devices, and undertake ever more complex jobs, including financial transactions, blockchain-based smart contracts and smart property products will become increasingly more relevant.
Smart contracts are computer algorithms that, without relying on human intervention, can verify, execute, and enforce the terms of a business agreement. Smart property is a property whose ownership is controlled by means of smart contracts. Of course, insurance, based on smart contracts that regulate all these arrangements, could be programmed on a usage-based model.
Robots can perform dangerous tasks such as cleaning nuclear plants. Or, they can play the role of pharmacists, who “automatically sort and package patient medication in hospitals in a way less error-prone than human pharmacists.”
Gartner predicts that “By 2020, autonomous software agents outside of human control will participate in 5% of all economic transactions. Smart algorithms are already beginning to perform transactions without our help.”
In about two decades, half of the U.S. workforce and more of a third of the U.K. workforce will be replaced by robots and other smart devices, according to a Merrill Lynch and University of Oxford report.
It is estimated that driverless cars will cause the first big wave of unemployment, according to SingularityHub: “driverless cars will provide tremendous benefit by eliminating traffic accidents and congestion, making commuting time more productive, and reducing energy usage. But they will eliminate the jobs of millions of taxi and truck drivers and delivery people.”
As a result, the American Institute of CPAs predicts that using robots will have tax implications.
If robots replace humans in the workforce, should the owners of robots pay taxes? Could it be beneficial to society to tax robots in order to support unemployed humans?
Many favor the idea of taxing robots. For example, developer and educator Adam Braus demands, “Tax Robots – Do not Tax Humans.” While, Robert A. Green argues that robots should contribute to Social Security and Medicare.
Questions regarding tipping and taxing robots will have to be answered in the not too distant future.
In any case, payments and financial transactions involving robots should be in a digital, programmable currency such as Bitcoin. Indeed, as our global economy becomes more digitized and nimble, it is imperative that financial transactions involving robots and other intelligent devices populating the Internet of Things be secure, fast, cheap, decentralized, frictionless, and negligible transactions fees. Opportunely, these are precisely the inherent attributes of Bitcoin and its blockchain.
Should robots be programmed to process bitcoin-based micropayments and taxed? Let us know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Pixabay, Ecovacs Robotics, and SoftBank Robotics Corporation.