Robots are replacing human workers and they don’t even have to pay income tax. Bill Gates, Microsoft founder and the richest man in the world, thinks that should change.
“Certainly there will be taxes that relate to automation. 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 told news website Quartz. “If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level,” he added.
“It is really bad if people overall have more fear about what innovation is going to do than they have enthusiasm,” Gates said. “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.”
He argued that governments must oversee such programmes rather than relying on businesses, in order to redirect the jobs to help people with lower incomes.
“If you can take the labour that used to do the things automation replaces, and financially and training-wise and fulfilment-wise have that person go off and do these other things, then you’re net ahead,” said Gates, one of the leading players in artificial-intelligence technology.
“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,” he said.
The European Parliament has rejected a proposed robot tax, and is instead interested in crafting regulation that guides the ethics behind creating and deploying robots, including liability when something goes wrong. Officials don’t want to leave these guidelines to “third countries,” according to a statement.