The TAX ROBOTS Debate

In February, Bill Gates suggested we tax robots to compensate for the loss of jobs to technological unemployment.

Published Feb. 17, 2017
Latest update June 23, 2017   (Tax the Robots Poll … scroll down:)

“The robot that takes your job should pay taxes, says Bill Gates”

“You ought to be willing to raise the tax level and even slow down the speed” of automation, Gates argues. 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.”

What followed, has been surprising.

Feb. 26, 2017

Salon – (originally appeared in – In These Times) “Automated labor apocalypse: Why a French socialist’s case for taxing robots is better than Bill Gates’ idea

KATE ARONOFF

French socialist candidate, Hamon, has put forth a proposal to provide a 750 euro monthly income for French citizens, that would be financed partially by  taxing the ‘wealth’ derived from robots.

Feb. 28, 2017

Bloomberg View – “What’s Wrong With Bill Gates’ Robot Tax”

Noah Smith

The problem with Gates’ basic proposal is that it’s very hard to tell the difference between new technology that complements humans and new technology that replaces them.

March 1, 2017

My Republica – “It’s the robots, stupid

In the hyper-robotized society of the future, politicians too will be replaced by robots. With the Robot Age on the horizon, representative democracy that we have now in Nepal will be replaced by direct democracy.

March 2, 2017

betanews – “How would a ‘robot tax’ work?”

Colin Kendon

“… if legislators decide that corporation tax revenues are inadequate to deal with the prospect of mass unemployment, it is clear that devising a so-called “robot tax” would prove highly problematic from a legal perspective.”

March 3, 2017

Forbes –  “No Robots Should Not Be Taxed”

Robert Seamans

Taxing robots based on an arbitrary definition of what constitutes a robot would discourage investment in and development of the technology.

Inverse – “People are Heated Over Whether To Tax Robots”

Peter Hess

“Whether or not we tax robots, both Seamans and Gates could be right: We need to make up for the tax revenue lost when human jobs are automated, but it doesn’t necessarily need to come from taxing robots. Whatever the case may be, we’ll need to decide soon.”

The Hill – “A robot tax is not a way to save jobs”

KOEN DE LEUS

“We are now on the brink of the fourth industrial revolution. Trying to slow the revolution down with a robot tax does not seem very sensible. However, it is feasible to introduce a package of measures designed to turn the revolution into a process of evolution in which as many people as possible are able to take part.”

Forbes –  “The Robot Tax Is Just Capitalism Vs Socialism All Over Again – The Cure Is The Same Too, Competition”

Tim Worstoll

“We don’t need a robot tax and there’s just not going to be a problem with the capitalists becoming even more plutocratically rich–as long, that is, as we keep insisting on having a competitive free market.”

March 6, 2017

Quartz – ‘Lawrence Summers says Bill Gates’ idea for a robot tax is “profoundly misguided” ‘

Lawrence Summers

“Summers argues that there are a number of technologies that already make it easier for a human to work, or to work more effectively—for instance, Microsoft Word.”

The Economist

The Economist explains – “How to make robots pay their fair share

March 7, 2017

ComputerWorld – “It’s time to tax the robots

Preston Gralla

“In other words, a robot has your job in its cross hairs.”

March 8, 2017

Reason.com – “Robot Tax = Protectionism Against Progress

Ronald Bailey

“Taxing robots will slow down progress and ultimately make most of us poorer than we would otherwise be.”

March 9, 2017

Fulcrum – “Taxing robots isn’t the path to economic stability

Nicholas Robinson

“If the government really wants to create more employment opportunities and prepare society for the upcoming demographic shock and rise in automated work, there are plenty of others paths that it could take.”

South China Morning Post / Korea Times – “South Korea’s IT sector split on a ‘robot tax’ to save jobs

Lee Min-hyung

“The official added the purpose of the robot tax sounds stunning and comes with expectations that can benefit our lives, but it is ironing out details over its implementation will not happen overnight.”

March 10, 2017

CBS News – “The backlash against Bill Gates’ call for a robot tax

Larry Light

“Bill Gates, who has done more to propel the world into the high-tech age than almost anyone, recently called for taxing robots. That has provoked enough negative feedback to fry a motherboard, with critics decrying him for wishing to hold back progress.”

The Hill – “Bill Gates’s robot tax idea is flawed. Here’s why.”

Spencer Smith

“Recent economic data does not support the idea that we are in the midst of a massive acceleration in technological disruption.”

Futurism –  “The US Secretary of Commerce doesn’t think we should tax robots

Abbey Norman and Karla Lant

“Ross believes that companies should decide whether innovations, including robots, benefit them. Instead of taxing robots—and essentially passing on that cost to the business owning class—Ross has stated that people in the workforce need to adjust to become part of the workforce of the future, and that improvements to the community college system might be one way they can prepare to do that.”

March 13, 2017

TechEye –  “Gates rubbished over robot tax idea

Nick Farrell

“So if we’re not going to tax robots, then how should society handle the next great wave of automated labour?”

MAGODA (Manufacturing America) – “Should robots pay taxes?”

James Spader

“At the close of the interview, Gates also emphasized the need for a government role in how automation is implemented into society. Through a potential tax on innovation and more labor sources for strictly human jobs, he states that sectors like social services and education could be amped up.”

Times-Republican – “Can mankind survive the onslaught of the robots?”

Rachel Marsden

“Supermarkets in Paris that don’t have automated checkouts are almost always understaffed, resulting in lines so long that I’ve more than once abandoned my basket to try my luck elsewhere. This is the sort of thing that happens when the state forces employers to pay exceedingly high taxes on employee salaries. Hiring becomes a burden that one seeks to minimize.”

March 14, 2017

International Business Times – “Meet Ulrich Spiesshofer: CEO of ABB who champions AI and says taxing robots would be foolish

Gaurav Sharma

Mankind is currently grappling with the fourth industrial revolution which is quite unique, according to the ABB boss. “This is the first time that technology isn’t replacing muscle, rather complementing the brain. It means that technology and technological revolution is leaving the factory door and heading across all processes of an enterprise at an unprecedented pace.”

March 16, 2017

Christian Science Monitor – “Would taxing robots help the people whose jobs they’ll take?”

Yifan Zhang

“Taxing robots would also fundamentally change the way the United States currently taxes business investment. Instead of treating equipment as a depreciating asset for which a firm takes a deduction in computing its taxable income, Gates would single out a subset of these investments for a new tax.”

Manteca Bulletin – “Making George Jetson pay taxes on Rosie Robot

Dennis Wyatt

San Francisco County Board of Supervisors – ‘Kim on Tuesday called for a hearing on “an ongoing tax on every machine that replaces a human.” ‘

Mashable – “It’s time to tax the robots, says Bill Gates

Patrick Kulp

“Economists and policy wonks have spent the weeks since debating how crazy this notion is. Some have gone so far as to call Gates, the guy who ran the biggest tech company of his time, a Luddite.”

March 18, 2017

CNBC – Geoff Cutmore | Everett Rosenfield – “Bill Gates wants to tax robots, but one robot maker says that’s ‘as intelligent’ as taxing software

ABB Group CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer – ‘ “Taxing robotics is as intelligent as taxing software,” he said. “They are both productivity tools. You should not tax the tools, you should tax the outcome that’s coming.”

March 20, 2017

Irish Examiner – “BRIAN KEEGAN: Bill Gates’ robot tax proposal is really a tax on people

Brian Keegan

“If a government is seriously looking to raise revenue from robots, should it also look to the kind of human work displaced by the information technology we use, much of which is underpinned by Mr Gates’ own inventions at Microsoft? Computers are also robots, in the sense of being machines which replace humans. Routine office jobs involving bookkeeping, analysis and other forms of number crunching, dictaphone typing, document assembly, duplication and filing — all these have been phased out by information technologies.”

Business Insider – “Here’s how Bill Gates’ plan to tax robots could actually happen

Malcolm James

“Taxing robots might also help to counteract tax avoidance, because the tax would be calculated by taxing a notional salary paid to the robot, and the company would be allowed to deduct this notional payment for the purpose of corporation tax.”

March 22, 2017

The Guardian – “Why robots should be taxed if they take people’s jobs

Robert Shiller

“But let’s not rule out so quickly at least modest robot taxes during the transition to a different world of work. Such a tax should be part of a broader plan to manage the consequences of the robotics revolution.”

March 25, 2017

MarketWatch – “Opinion: Robotization without taxation?

Robert J. Shiller

“A moderate tax on robots, even a temporary tax that merely slows the adoption of disruptive technology, seems a natural component of a policy to address rising inequality.”

The Hans India – “Taxing the robots

“Taxing technology can impede innovation. But, the world should brainstorm on how to use policy to mitigate the disruption of automation.”

March 27, 2017

San Francisco Examiner – ‘As robots take human jobs, Supervisor Kim proposes a “robot tax”

Seung Y. Lee

‘ “While some people are talking about it, it is not in the larger public discourse,” Kim said. “The hope is that the conversations are going to happen on a macro level.” ‘

Live Trading News – “Should Robots Be Taxed If They Take People’s Jobs?

Paul Ebeling

April 2, 2017

Robotics Trends – “Taxing Robots: Will it Help or Hurt Jobs?

Oliver Mitchell

… what is lacking are real solutions to preventing seismic shifts in the economy. There are three options on the table: 1) industry self-regulation (The Roboticist’s Moral Imperative); 2) Universal Basic Income (UBI); and 3) a tax on robots. This week’s post will delve deeper into UBI and robot taxes.

April 4, 2017

Fast Company – “One San Francisco Politician Is Exploring A Tax On Robots

Ben Schiller

“Kim, who represents areas like Union Square, the Tenderloin, and Civic Center, is setting up a working group to consider how an automation tax might work.”

April 19, 2017

April 23, 2017

TechCrunch – ‘ Is a “robot tax” really an  “innovation penalty”? ‘

Steve Cousins

“Perhaps a better way to ensure that automation improves the lives of all citizens — instead of becoming a wedge that creates a bigger and bigger divide between the haves and have-nots — is to ensure corporations pay tax on their profits.”

April 30, 2017

Big Think “Bill Gates: the Robot Taking Your Job Should Pay Taxes”

Paul Ratner

May 02, 2017

Business Insider “San Francisco is considering a once unthinkable measure to offset the threat of job-killing robots

Melia Robinson

‘The tech industry collectively face-palmed when Trump’s treasury secretary said earlier this year that the threat of robots taking human jobs was “not even on our radar screen.”

May 06, 2017

SputnickNews.com –  “Tax the Robot Idea Gains Momentum as Age of Automation Looms

“Sputnik contacted the Labour Party and the Conservative Party about robot tax but neither have commented.”

VDare.com –  “Automation: San Francisco Considers Robot Tax to Counter Job Loss

Josh Edelson/AP

“San Francisco often wrongly fantasizes itself as being ahead of the rest of the country, but in this case it is actually is debating a problem that Washington is ignoring to the peril of all Americans.”

May 23, 2017

The Federalist – “Why Bill Gates’ Robot Tax Is A Seductive, Yet Terrible Idea

Sethu A. Iyer

“But if robots are inanimate objects, then they can only be taxed in the same way all other property is taxed—by taxing the owners of the robots. If robots are sentient, you can’t enslave them. And if they are property, you can’t draw value from them.”

May 25, 2017

The Straits Times –  “Humans unlikely to hit ‘kill switch’ on robots

Paul Chan Poh Hoi

“The fact of the matter is that these new technologies are being developed with the express purpose of completely replacing, rather than simply complementing, human labour.

In contrast to previous advances in industrial capability, the advent of robots and artificial intelligence (AI) is forecast to displace more jobs than it creates.”

 

Inverse Innovation – ” ‘Year Million’s Robot Rights Movement is Already Taking Shape

Mike Brown

May 30, 2017

Wired – “WHO WILL PAY FOR THE FUTURE IF NOT THE ROBOTS?

Mat Simon 

But it’s hard to imagine a future in which the US economy loses a third of its jobs to automation and governments just sit on their hands.

June 3, 2017

Port Strategy – “Balancing automation and taxation

Olaf Merk

… But times might be different now. Trade growth is stagnating and will probably never again reach the levels of the last decades. At the same time, robotisation could make more than half of current jobs disappear quickly. Terminal automation in such circumstances might have very different outcomes than in the previous decades – and result in the redundancy of people that are likely not to find another job again.

June 17, 2017

The Star Online – “Advances in robotics and artificial Intelligence need to be managed

Lin See-Yan

 

June 18, 2017

Business Mirror – “The Rise of the robots

Atty. Jose Ferdinand Rojas II

“The best thing to do for now is to recognize the threat, strategize and start putting up safeguards for people’s jobs and income.”

June 23, 2017

enigma – “The five traps making sense to tax robots

Oliver Kennedy – Pascal Wicht

“Isn’t it interesting to see how the project of taxing robots locks itself in the idea of replacement? This technological determinism leaves no space for alternate realities.”

 

 

POLL

 

To be continued