Bill Gates suggested that robots should be taxed, just as human workers are. Now there’s a move to put this idea n place in San Francisco. City supervisor Jane Kim wants to see robots taxed, with the money going to help human workers whom the machines have displaced. She’s trying to make it happen in the City by the Bay, and across the state of California.
Replacing people with machinery has already reduced the number of human workers in factories. But the robots don’t pay taxes the way the humans who used to do the jobs did. The owners of the factory don’t pay salaries or payroll taxes, or unemployment insurance, either. This concentrates the wealth produced in the hands of the owners of the machines, and reduces the amount of revenue going to the government.
Kim talks about the tax as a way to take responsibility for automation and plan for the increasing income inequality. She says it’s time for human beings to think about the consequences of our technology, and especially to think about how humans will support themselves if automation takes all the jobs.
Will automation take all the jobs? It seems unlikely right now, but it makes sense to have a plan… just in case. Kim wants to get some funds in place to help the displaced workers. Gates sees robot taxes as a way to slow down automation and make people think about the consequences of continuing down that path.
People working in robotics generally don’t agree. They see their work as producing new, more responsible and creative jobs. Taxing the expanding use of automation, they figure, would inhibit innovation. And innovation tends to increase the available jobs, not decrease them.
Rexroth has been working with industrial automation since the idea first emerged. The company now employs more than 35,000 people. We swpecialize in Rexroth electric drive and motion control. If you need support, call us and you will speak to a knowledgeable human being right away.