Backlash Builds Against Bill Gates’ Call For A Robot Tax

Bill Gates argued governments should tax companies that use replace humans with robots, which “provoked enough negative feedback to fry a motherboard,” according to CBS News. Here’s how they summarized some of the reactions:
“Why pick on robots?” former Treasury Secretary Summers asked in a Washington Post opinion piece, which called Gates “profoundly misguided.” The economist argued that progress, however messy and disruptive sometimes, ultimately benefits society overall.Mike Shedlock, a financial adviser with Sitka Pacific Capital Management in Edmonds, Washington, wrote on his blog that robot owners, who likely would pay the tax, would simply pass it along by jacking up prices.The European Union’s parliament in February rejected a measure to impose a tax on robots, using much the same reasoning as Gates’ critics.

But even while acknowledging that technology can complement humans rather than replacing them, a Bloomberg columnist argues that “Gates is right to say that we should start thinking ahead of time about how to use policy to mitigate the disruptions of automation.” So if we’re not going to tax robots, then how should society handle the next great wave of automated labor?


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