In a new interview with Quartz, Microsoft founder Bill Gates makes a rather stunning argument—that robots who replace human workers should incur taxes equivalent to that worker’s income taxes.
“Right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed . . . If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level.”
Gates argues that these taxes, paid by a robot’s owners or makers, would be used to help fund labor force retraining. Former factory workers, drivers, and cashiers would be transitioned to health services, education, or other fields where human workers will remain vital. Gates even suggests the policy would intentionally “slow down the speed of that adoption [of automation] somewhat,” giving more time to manage the broader transition.