Automation is stealing (or maybe will steal) jobs and this means that those who are not prepared for this reality will be in the job market in no distant future or even have a forceful early retirement. But Bill Gates (Microsoft co-founder) thinks we could at least do something to slow down the inevitable while we look for ways out of it. In an interview with Quartz, Mr. Gates thinks by taxing robots, we would be able to expand the job portfolio that can only be filled by humans in certain sectors. So for example, we’ll be able to fund education jobs that require teachers interacting with kids daily and according to Quartz, the idea is not strange as European lawmakers are considering a proposal of their own to tax companies which are replacing humans with robots for the purpose of retraining those who may be affected.
Bill Gates argues that “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 would tax the robot at a similar level.” He continued by saying “Some of that 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’s going to be a tax.”
He thinks this won’t affect innovation and shouldn’t outrage robot makers or those who employ their services because the other alternative could be worse and that’s an outright ban on robotics in certain sectors.
But he advises that this taxation should be carried out in partnership with the private sector so that it can be effectively implemented.
Automation as bad as it sounds to some makes processes more efficiency and currently threatens mainly unskilled or low skilled jobs which is why a form of taxation could help in re-training people in this category for other jobs. In a world where income inequality is still a major challenge, robots could contribute more to this problem because they would be used by the rich who may have no need to employ low skilled workers.