The technology is developing in the blink of an eye. Each day there are new inventions, such as robots, which can do a lot more than the ones before, and cause many changes in the world.
Some of those changes actually ease the work of humans while others replace them completely. This means that fewer people will be working so fewer people will be paying taxes.
This situation may cause some problems because taxes fund schools, fire departments, roads.
Bill Gates, the world’s richest man and co-founder of Microsoft, has an opinion on this subject. He says that robots which replace humans in the working place should pay the same amount in taxes as men would.
“Right now if a human worker does you know, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed,” Gates said in an interview with Quartz. “If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think we would tax the robot at a similar level.” – Gates says.
In the interview with Quartz editor-in-chief Kevin Delaney, Gates explains that if technology is replacing people on certain job positions, there are more people left to work as teachers, help the elderly, the disabled and children with special needs. Practically, all those jobs where human empathy and feelings are irreplaceable and unique.
According to an Oxford report from 2013, robots could take over 50% of the jobs between 2023 and 2033. And according to 2015 McKinsey report, today’s technology could replace 45% of jobs right now.
If that happens, Gates says “you can’t just give up taxes”, because that’s how you’ve been funding the level of human workers.
Instead, “The tax money could come from the savings companies get from not having to pay and support human workers, or some of it can come directly in some type of robot tax. I don’t think the robot companies are going to be outraged that there’s going to be a tax.”- Gates says.
These are not just words, EU lawmakers take a proposal into consideration to tax robot owners to pay for training for workers who lose their jobs, although, on 16 February the legislators rejected it.
“You ought to be willing to raise the tax level and even slow down the speed of automation”, says Gates. That’s because the technology and business cases for replacing humans in a wide range of jobs are arriving simultaneously, and it’s important to be able to manage that displacement.
“You cross the threshold of job replacement of certain activities all sort of at once,” Gates says, citing warehouse work and driving as some of the job categories that in the next 20 years will have robots doing them.
Still, people should not fear from these types of changes, instead they should try and make the most of it by taking everything that’s positive from this fast development of technology.
“People should be figuring it out,” said Gates.
“It is really bad if people overall have more fear about what innovation is going to do than they have enthusiasm. That means they won’t shape it for the positive things it can do.”