Many people worry that robots will replace human jobs, but Bill Gates has a solution: a robot tax.
As robots begin to infiltrate the workforce, why shouldn’t they be taxed just as humans are? In a recent interview with Quartz, Gates argued that in order to offset job losses due to automation, governments should tax companies that use robots.
“Right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed, and you get income tax, social security tax, all those things,” Gates said. “If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you'd think that we'd tax the robot at a similar level.”
From factory workers to cashiers, those whose jobs might be in jeopardy from robots would have the opportunity to transition to other fields such as health services or education. A tax on robots could help fund the training needed for jobs such as caring for the elderly, teaching in schools and helping kids with special needs -- roles that robots can’t fill.
Although taxing robots may slow innovation, Gates notes, a robot tax policy could allow displaced workers a sufficient amount of time to train for fields that need human workers.
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Gates’s idea is not new. Last week, EU lawmakers considered a tax on robot owners and makers. Similar to Gates’s idea, the tax was conceived of to train workers who had lost their jobs to robots. Ultimately, legislators rejected the proposal.