The founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, suggested in a video that like humans, robots should be taxed. In the video produced by Quartz, Gates points out that a human being working in a factory is paid a $50,000 salary is taxed. “If a robot comes in and does the same thing,” Gates said, “you would think we would tax the robot at a similar level.”
Gates asserted that “what the world wants is to take this opportunity to make the goods and services we have today and free up labor --- let us do a better job of reaching out to the elderly, having smaller class size, helping kids with special needs.” In those areas of the economy, Gates said that “human empathy and understanding are still very unique, and will still deal with an immense shortage out there of people to help there.”
By providing training and financing, Gates said, those people who have lost their jobs to automation can go do “these other things,” and thus “net ahead.”
The income tax cannot be given up because that is the source to fund training. “Some of it can come from the profits that are generated by the labor-saving efficiency there. Some of it can come from some sort of robot tax.” Ultimately, Gates mused that the manufacturers of robots will probably not object to such a tax.
According to the International Federation of Robots, in 2015 the ten countries with the greatest number of robots per 10,000 human inhabitants are the following:
South Korea, 347
United States, 135
Gates sits on the board of Microsoft and BerkshireHathaway, and is active in his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which in addition to funding disease-control in the undeveloped world, is also engaged in the distribution of contraceptives.