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Robots to improve the world

“Job loss because of AI? A tax on robots? Complete nonsens and counterproductive!”

Microsoft founder Bill Gates and the French socialist Benoît Hamon are advocates of a tax on robots, the debate on the added value of Artificial Intelligence and robots is omnipresent. Massive job loss due to new technology. “Nonsense.” Says Wesley Lorrez, ceo of PegusApps in an interview. “We must focus on embracing this new technology.”

The idea of taxing robots is spreading quickly on a global scale. Also in Belgium we heard a similar proposal from the Walloon Minister of Budget Christophe Lacroix (Socialist Party). He even proposes a “tax on automation”. Doomsday messages on this massive job loss caused by implementing robots make the ceo of PegusApps, Wesley Lorrez, frown upon: “Why are we always that scared of innovation?” A talk with the software developer that already built up experience regarding AI and robot technology for years.

Clearly you do not agree with the negative sounds that are given to AI and robots. What is according to you the cause?
Wesley Lorrez: According to me this kind of doomsday atmosphere reminds me of stories in the past such as the arrival of “the iron horse” which then also meant the end of humanity, just like robots are being accused of now. Or just before the industrialization at the beginning of 1900 people also feared massively for their jobs. Nothing is less true though, the car has become an indispensable means of transport today and although the initial builders have made wrong choices concerning the engines which is now being rectified by Tesla and other innovative car builders. And the industrialization has brought more prosperity and more jobs.

Is that the reason why you find some of the negative critics on robots is according to you unfounded?
Wesley Lorrez: I don’t understand why people are always that reluctant to embrace new technology. I believe we already had to release all kinds of robots rather yesterday than tomorrow. According to me the essence of the problem lies in humanity itself which sees its own selfishness, greed and other dark aspects as a threat. Because ultimately, a robot is a robot designed and developed by mankind and we are the ones that continue to determine the end result. Robots may be completely normal in human evolution. They will make sure we live much better and longer. Thanks to robots we can also expand in space.
“Perhaps we’d better already had an Artificial Intelligent President in America”
In fact, I think ignorance of people is the main cause of such discussions and thoughts on robots and not so much the nature of robot technology itself. If we had known the outcome of the US presidential elections, perhaps we would have already had an Artificial Intelligent President by now.

Despite the fear the entry and arrival of robots are trending as is AI which is for example being implemented into self-driving lorries. The International Transport Forum (ITF), a think tank in which 57 countries reside, reported that by 2030 the demand for lorry drivers would fall by 50 to 70 percent in the United States and Europe. Your thoughts on this evolution?
Wesley Lorrez: Why are we afraid robots will take over our work? I’m actually glad that they will! I do believe the real issue here is not robots taking over our work but in fact the capitalist system. Robots don’t have a place in such a system, that’s obvious, but we might face the end of an era and that we must grow towards a different approach than pure capitalism as we know it today. And what a timing, just as robot technology is breaking through for the moment.

What’s the solution? For starters: a robot that takes over the work of a human being? Then just continue to pay the worker; or just ensure a continuous income for everybody. Eventually I even believe the concept of money will disappear and we won’t have to exchange our hard earned pennies.
“A robot that takes over the work of an employee?Just continue paying the employee.”
Do lorry drivers fear 2030? That’s too bad. Let them keep their wages and let the robots drive the lorries. I bet they would change their opinion immediately. They actually could be the pioneers of a brave new society in which we can enjoy the true virtues of robots.

An interesting and revolutionary vision, but what should these people then do with this extra time on their hands?
Wesley Lorrez: That’s even an extra benefit to the whole system: because we don’t have to do certain tasks ourselves and we all could work less, we can invest more in becoming smarter and staying smarter than robots. What could be more beautiful than a society in which robots work and we can walk around without any worries? Isn’t that a dream everyone cherishes? Our planet would have the best optimized care, we could hand over work to robots and being served by them.  And this is all possible in an ecologically friendly way. Because robots can work environmentally-friendly and even maintain a vegetable garden and serve us the freshest food without any external need. A world I’d like to live in! Only in embracing the robot technology we can build a beautiful future where we can live in harmony with nature and ourselves – I’m already looking forward to it!