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Bill Gates: Tax Robots To Compensate For Human Jobs Lost To Automation

Gates thinks this would help people find new job opportunities when automation takes over.

We are living in an era where robots are stealing a majority of human jobs. And automation will likely lead to many humans losing their jobs. But do you know what the world’s richest man, self-described techno-optimist and Microsoft Cofounder – Bill Gates thinks about robots?

“Tax the robots” – Bill Gates

In a recent interview with Quartz, Bill Gates stated that robots who take human jobs should pay tax. As taxing job-stealing robots would compensate job losses by funding training for job roles where humans are still needed. He thinks that it could slow down the process of automation to a more manageable rate.

Gates is completely aware of potential drawbacks, therefore, he suggests government take immediate action and tax brands, individuals and companies for the use of such robots. Bill Gates thinks that taxation will not only temporarily slow down the spread of automation and fund different types of employment, it will ultimately slow innovation by making job-stealing robots too expensive.

He is fully persuaded that Senate should be figuring out a robot tax policy so that they are ready when there is a sudden overabundance of unemployed workers.  

Bill Gates says that robots taxation would be a positive step towards financing jobs such as taking care of old people and kids – and every other position for which humans are well suited.

But robots are also unlikely to complain about such tax levels, as they don’t use services funded by tax revenues such as health or education services and they are most unlikely to set aside income and assets in a tax haven.

He argues that government must run such programs instead of completely depending on businesses, in order to forward such jobs to help individuals with lower incomes.

However, Gates can’t expect any kindness from Europe for his taxation ideas. European Parliament rejected the suggestion to tax robot owners to provide funds for training for individuals who lose their jobs. Instead, it is interested in devising regulations that guide the ethics behind creating and deploying robots, including liability when something goes wrong.  

You should be ready to increase the amount of tax and slow down the speed of automation”. Gates said. “This is because the technology, artificial intelligence, and business cases for replacing humans in a wide range of positions are rising simultaneously, and it’s very important to control this shift. You cross the threshold of job replacement of certain types of positions simultaneously”. Gates argues. Citing warehouse work and driving as some of the job categories that in the next two decades will have robots doing them”. He further added.

Well, actually, you can’t tax robots any more than you can tax any other lifeless object. But according to Bill Gates’ suggestions, it would help to address numerous important tax issues. But the question here: What proportion of its tax revenue should the government raise from tax bases, capital, labor, and expenditure? Moreover, how can the government counteract tax avoidance by large enterprises and rich individuals?

The idea of taxation seems very loony. Bill Gates used the example of a human employee who earns $50,000 and is replaced by a robot. You’d think we’d tax the robot at the same level. Obviously, the robot can do the same work for less than $50,000. To tax the robot’s owner as a human making $50,000 would in effect make proficiency illegal. Moreover, the idea Gates proposed would seem like it applies to any technology that takes over human labor.  

As an insight into social issues, Bill Gates idea tells a bigger truth. Technology and artificial intelligence may be reducing jobs faster than it brings new ones. If it’s happening at the same pace, then the whole economic and social order will soon be reshaped in a troublesome and disruptive manner.

Therefore, Gates suggests some ways to slow down the automation process and generate tax revenue to fund job retraining. Irrespective of his idea’s merits, the issues won’t get away.

Chris Stone

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