Afraid of automation? This billionaire has an idea.
Institute a robot tax.
Bill Gates believes that as robots begin to make their way into the workforce, tax those robots the same way you would tax a human.
Seems to make sense on the surface.
Gates argues, “You ought to be willing to raise the tax level and even slow down the speed” of automation. And he believes robot companies will be OK with it.
Industries expected to be affected by robots in the next 20 years are warehouse work, driving, cashiers, and more.
I've included the important excerpts from Bill Gates' recent interview with Quartz.
Here's what he had to say:
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. If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level.
And what the world wants is to take this opportunity to make all the goods and services we have today, and free up labor, let us do a better job of reaching out to the elderly, having smaller class sizes, helping kids with special needs. You know, all of those are things where human empathy and understanding are still very, very unique. And we still deal with an immense shortage of people to help out there.
And so you could introduce a tax on robots…
There are many ways to take that extra productivity and generate more taxes. Exactly how you’d do it, measure it, you know, it’s interesting for people to start talking about now.
Some of it can come on the profits that are generated by the labor-saving efficiency there. Some of it can come directly in some type of robot tax. I don’t think the robot companies are going to be outraged that there might be a tax.
You cross the threshold of job-replacement of certain activities all sort of at once. So, you know, warehouse work, driving, room cleanup, there’s quite a few things that are meaningful job categories that, certainly in the next 20 years, being thoughtful about that extra supply is a net benefit. It’s important to have the policies to go with that.
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.
You can check out the entire interview at Quartz.
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