If robots and automation are ultimately going to replace more and more American jobs, Bill Gates, for one, thinks we shouldn’t also lose the income tax generated by human workers.
Tax the robots, the Microsoft co-founder said in a new interview with Quartz.
“Right now, if a human worker does, you know, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed,” Gates said. “If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level.”
Gates’s thinking is that, as a society, we should be doing a better job of taking care of the elderly, reducing school classroom size and helping children with special needs. We’ve got a jump on the robots in that regard because human empathy and understanding are very unique, Gates said.
The billionaire philanthropist said there is an immense shortage of people to help out with those things he listed, so he suggests retraining the workforce that used to handle what automation has and will replace.
“You can’t just give up that income tax because that’s part of how you’ve been funding that level of human workers,” Gates said, before laughing and adding that he doesn’t think the robot companies will be outraged that there might be a tax.
As a man who changed the world with what he accomplished at Microsoft, and continues to do so today in healthcare initiatives and more through his foundation, Gates is ever the optimist when it comes to future technologies.
“It is really bad if people overall have more fear about what innovation is going to do than they have enthusiasm,” he said. “That means they won’t shape it for the positive things it can do.”
Read more about Bill Gates’s current views on the state of the world in GeekWire’s extensive new interview.