Bill Gates: Job-stealing robots should pay income taxes

Bill Gates: Job-stealing robots should pay income taxes
PHOTO: Reuters

CPAs of the world, take note of a whole new potential client base: According to Bill Gates, if a robot is going to do a human's job, it should also pay a person's income taxes.

"If a human worker does $50,000 of work in a factory, that income is taxed," says Gates 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."

Gates is actually optimistic about the prospect of a workforce made up significantly of robots and, in the interview, he emphasizes the jobs humans will still, and always, be needed to do.

Read also: Lawyers could be the next profession to be replaced by computers

"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."

The Microsoft co-founder says that if labour and resources replaced by automation can be redirected towards those types of roles, "you're net ahead."

Still, tax revenue is essential to making training and new, irreplaceable jobs available to human workers.

"You can't just give up that income tax," he says. "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."

And the companies making money building this robot workforce? Gates speculates they'll be just fine with the idea of a robo-worker that's required to pay its due.

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