Shall we tax automation? Bill Gates says yes

“Right now if a human worker does you know, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think we’d tax the robot at a similar level,” he said.

Gates told Quartz that the business world wants to continue to make all the goods and services we have today, but free up human-labor, which may in return be allocated to focus on areas that are suffering the education system and care for the elderly.

“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,” he said. “And so if you can take the labor to do the thing that automation replaces and both financially and training-wise and fulfillment-wise have that person go off and do these other things, you are net ahead.”

But it comes with a catch.

“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. “Some of it can come from the profits that are generated by the labor-saving efficiency there; some can come directly in some kind of robot tax.”

This isn’t the first time Gates has addressed the replacement of human labor force with robots.

Since robots aren’t replacing human labor Gate’s point is moot. They just move the labor around and add bandwidth that humanity uses to created whole new industries - much as Microsoft did.
But if we do use this as an excuse to institute some sort of stupid robot tax I would expect industry to take their ball and bat and robots and move eleswhere.

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In the future, pretty soon, life insurance contracts won’t need the client to provide a blood sample. There will be a futuristic breathalyzer. Bye bye nurse!