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Cars on display at the Novosibirsk Railway Museum
Cars on display at the Novosibirsk Railway Museum
Egor Popov

MOSCOW - At the beginning of November, Russian automaker executives testified in front of the Trade and Industry Ministry about a network of sites around the country they had set up to allow car owners to drop off unwanted cars for recycling. It was the first sign in a move towards the creation of a massive car-recycling infrastructure in Russia.

But what is notable is that the network was created in an unprecedentedly short time. In most auto markets in the world, this kind of network takes years to develop. In Russia it happened in a couple of months.

The reason is that in September a large “vehicle recovery tax,” came into effect, which is meant to protect Russian automakers as Russia joins the World Trade Organization (WTO) and cuts import tariffs on foreign cars. Of course, the tax is always explained as being about environmental protection and road safety.

All auto importers pay the tax, which is then used to pay for car recycling. Russian auto manufacturers are exempt from paying as long as they guarantee that they will recycle, meaning that they establish an auto-recycling drop-off center in every territory with more than 500,000 residents.

The recycling tax is paid on a per-car basis, and ranges from a low of around $550 for new cars to $55,000 for used trucks. The fees for used vehicles are higher than for new ones.

A representative from the auto industry who spoke with Kommersant said that it was difficult to set up so many recycling points, especially in areas with few dealerships. According to Georgi Golenev, who leads one of the automakers’ recycling programs, in some parts of the country all of the companies worked together to set up joint recycling stations.

The price of recycling

But getting the old car from its owner - that is just the first step in the recycling process. It is more complicated to break down the car and find uses for all of its parts. “What little car-recycling infrastructure there is right now is only in certain parts of the country. There are only nine companies in Russia that can break down the cars. And our capacity for reusing tires and batteries is ten times less than the expected demand,” Golenev explained.

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Future

Robot Artists And Us: Who Decides The Aesthetics Of AI?

Ai-Da is touted as the first bonafide robot artist. But should we consider her paintings and poetry original or creative? Is this even art at all?

Ai-Da at work

Leah Henrickson and Simone Natale

Ai-Da sits behind a desk, paintbrush in hand. She looks up at the person posing for her, and then back down as she dabs another blob of paint onto the canvas. A lifelike portrait is taking shape. If you didn’t know a robot produced it, this portrait could pass as the work of a human artist.

Ai-Da is touted as the “first robot to paint like an artist”, and an exhibition of her work called Leaping into the Metaverse opened at the Venice Biennale.

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