Bill Gates Proclaims Robots That Replace Human Workers Should Pay Taxes Just Like The Rest Of Us
It is almost tax season again here in the United States, but in the future, your fellow Americans might not be the only ones giving away a "pound of flesh" to the IRS. Bill Gates
believes that robots
should also pay their dues. The Microsoft
co-founder recently stated in an interview that governments should tax companies that replace human workers with robots.
Gates remarked in the interview, “So if you can take the labor that used to do the thing automation replaces, and financially and training-wise and fulfillment-wise have that person go off and do these other things, then you’re net ahead. But you can’t just give up that income tax, because that’s part of how you’ve been funding that level of human workers.”
Gates' argument for a “robot tax” is not so much a defense of those who might lose their jobs, but a concern for the loss of taxes that fund government-supported programs like education and social security. A robot tax could potentially support jobs related to the elderly and children; sectors which are notoriously underemployed and underfunded. Displaced workers would be able to find employment in these fields that require a human element.
The magnate also recognized that businesses are unlikely to suggest a new tax. He insisted that governments have “ a big role to play there”. The government would also be responsible for using the collected robot taxes in a responsible way that is “inequity-solving”.
Many have contended that a robot tax would remove the incentive for innovation. This fear is one of the reasons that the European Union was unable to pass its own robot tax this past week. Gates responded, “People should be figuring it out. It is really bad if people overall have more fear about what innovation is going to do than they have enthusiasm. That means they won’t shape it for the positive things it can do. And, you know, taxation is certainly a better way to handle it than just banning some elements of it.”