Feb 17, 2017

Bill Gates says robots should pay taxes

Bill Gates is the latest to suggest that one way to deal with the massive job losses expected to come from increased automation is to tax the job-killing robots, or at least the companies that use them.

"You ought to be willing to raise the tax level and even slow down the speed (of automation)," he said in an interview with Quartz. Gates, like many in and out of Silicon Valley, sees a mass labor disruption coming as artificial intelligence, self-driving cars and robots threaten to eliminate a ton of today's jobs.

"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."

Gates isn't alone: The European Union looked at the notion of a "robot tax" recently, but decided to pass, for now.

The counter-point: The PC and ATM also eliminated jobs, but the companies that have reaped those productivity gains aren't taxed.

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