Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has suggested that governments should impose a robot tax.
In a recent interview with Quartz, Gates said a human worker who earns $50,000, for example, has to pay various taxes.
“If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level.”
Gates said that a robot tax may finance jobs taking care of elderly people or working with kids in schools, where humans are ideal for these works.
He argues that governments must oversee such programmes instead of depending on businesses, in order to redirect the jobs to help people with lower incomes.
Gates said: “If you could take the labor that used 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’re net ahead.”
“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.”
The Microsoft co-founder said the taxes, paid by a robot’s owners or makers, would be used to help fund labor force retraining.
The suggestion made by Gates is similar to a proposal put to the European Parliament to tax robot owners.
MEPs asked the EU Commission to propose rules on robotics and artificial intelligence, in order to fully exploit their economic potential and to guarantee a standard level of safety and security.
The resolution was passed by 396 votes to 123, with 85 abstentions. The Commission will not be obliged to follow the Parliament’s recommendations, but it should state its reasons if it refuses.
Earlier this month, a report by Think Tank Reform revealed that 250,000 public sector employees could be replaced by robots over the next 15 years.