Gates rubbished over robot tax idea

Software King of the World and sworn enemy of the mosquito, Sir William Gates III, has attracted much mock over his idea to tax robots.

Gates pointed out that if robots were going to do the work of a person they should be taxed. That way at least they could help pay the unemployment benefits of those who don’t have jobs because of the robots.

Former Treasury Secretary Summers wrote a Washington Post opinion piece  in which he dubbed Gates “profoundly misguided”.

“Why pick on robots?” Summers said 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 bog 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.

However, it was not all criticism. One Bloomberg columnist thought Gates was 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 labour?