Robotic workers shouldn’t be exempt from paying income tax – that’s the message from business magnate Bill Gates who says the funds could then be channelled into the training and development of human staff.
"If a human worker does $50,000 of work in a factory, that income is taxed," Gates said in a recent interview with Quartz editor-in-chief Kevin Delaney. "If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you'd think we'd tax the robot at a similar level.”
The Microsoft co-founder says it would be a huge mistake for economies to give up that income tax and says there’s more than one way to retrieve the funds.
"Some of it can come on the profits that are generated by the labour-saving efficiency there. Some of it can come directly from some type of robot tax,” he says.
While the rise of robotic workers may be worrying some, Gates is optimistic about the future and says he’s sure there will always be work available for humans – as long as there are funds available to help retrain those who lost their jobs to automation.
“What the world wants is to take this opportunity to make all the goods and services we have today and free up labour – let us do a better job of reaching out to the elderly, having smaller class side, helping kids with special needs," says Gates.
"All of those are things where human empathy and understanding are still very unique, and we still deal with an immense shortage of people to help out there."
Gates says that if labour and resources replaced by automation can be redirected towards those types of roles, "you're net ahead.”