Bill Gates says that job-stealing robots should pay taxes

midian182

Posts: 8,307   +103
Staff member

There’s no doubt that as robots and automated machines become increasingly advanced, more humans will find themselves out of a job - and fewer people in work means a fall in the amount of tax being paid. Former Microsoft boss Bill Gates believes the best solution to the problem is to make the machines pay their share.

“Right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed and you get income tax, Social Security tax, all those things,” said Gates in an interview with Quartz. “If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level.”

Gates isn’t suggesting we make the robots themselves pay tax, like something out of Futurama. He says the money could come from the savings companies make from not having to employ human workers. A tax could also be levied against the firms that create the robots.

He also said the tax could be used to help people who’ve lost their jobs to automation by funding training for positions that require human empathy and understanding, such care for the elderly and children with special needs.

“But you can’t just give up that income tax, because that’s part of how you’ve been funding that level of human workers,” Gates added.

Whether the robot tax ever does become a reality remains to be seen. It’s unlikely to be welcomed by companies making the machines, and by those that buy them, but Gates said it wouldn't hamper innovation. “People should be figuring it out. It is really bad if people overall have more fear about what innovation is going to do than they have enthusiasm.”

A report by Luxemburg politician Mandy Delvaux last month also suggested, among other things, a tax on robots. But it was rejected by the European Parliament on the grounds that it would “have had a very negative impact on competitiveness and employment."

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mbrowne5061

Posts: 2,058   +1,278
He is right though. Robots don't pull a paycheck or benefits, and after the initial recovery of investment, they are nearly pure-profit (ignoring electricity usage, that might be offset from lower lighting levels than what humans require). Any company competing with a human workforce against a robotic one will lose. A tax will be needed both to help balance the transition (so you don't have a collapse of every company that can't afford an as-rapid transition to automation as their competition can), and to help fund the government as the workforce dwindles.
 

Greg S

Posts: 1,607   +442
This is ridiculous. You can't prove a company is using robots without physically going to their facility. You also can't prove what a robot is. Is a CNC machine a robot? What about a pick and place machine? Or an inductive sensor attached to a rotating wheel?

Any sort of anti-competitive regulations would completely ruin any hope of further innovation by increasing business costs.
 

cliffordcooley

Posts: 13,141   +6,439
OMG lets go back and figure out how many jobs have been lost over tech improvements and start charging back taxes. If this robot doesn't have a citizenship, collect a paycheck, and go on vacation you can't charge it taxes.
 
This is ridiculous. You can't prove a company is using robots without physically going to their facility. You also can't prove what a robot is. Is a CNC machine a robot? What about a pick and place machine? Or an inductive sensor attached to a rotating wheel?
You can easily tell a company is using Robots when starts laying off it's 'Human-tax-paying', workers...
Any sort of anti-competitive regulations would completely ruin any hope of further innovation by increasing business costs.
Why on earth would think it's Okay for any business to innovate Humans out of work, then profit from a smaller workforce + not reduce the cost of their products and/or services?
 
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davislane1

This dude looks 70 in his 60, with all his money...

The only truly effective anti-aging treatment is to carry significant lean body mass (muscle). Gates and other tech titans don't even lift.

Former Microsoft boss Bill Gates believes the best solution to the problem is to make the machines pay their share.

Makes billions off of capitalism, then says we need socialist policies to balance things out.

Reminds me of Soros. "We need more regulation in financial markets." "But where is your fund based?" "In a regulatory void." "Isn't that a contradiction?" "Not really."
 

MonsterZero

Posts: 585   +336
This makes sense to me, you are taking jobs out of the economy. The economy relies on that workers taxes to help contribute to the over all health of the economy, now that you've taken that away, the money has to come from somewhere else.
 

cliffordcooley

Posts: 13,141   +6,439
the money has to come from somewhere else.
You mean the money they are needlessly spending? Sure some is needed but the majority is a total waste.

Reminds me of a Farscape episode where 90% of the population was lawyers. People will find something to do regardless of how many robots are working. People will find ways of charging others, even if they have to base them on lies. And charging a company on the basis that it has evaded working people, where the hell would you even start?
 
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davislane1

This makes sense to me, you are taking jobs out of the economy. The economy relies on that workers taxes to help contribute to the over all health of the economy, now that you've taken that away, the money has to come from somewhere else.

The U.S. economy relies on consumer spending. Taxes reduce spending by reducing available income to spend. Unless having less money means you can spend more money, your statement is false.
 

Tinianxxx

Posts: 6   +4
These top earners like Gates use taxes they pay to help their companies and less taxes paid would give them less power and less control in the Government. Why are they worried about people losing their jobs and having no income, say some silly statement about retraining them in jobs helping people the rich always use to make themselves look good, help the poor and elderly who can't take care of themselves. Why do we listen to these people?
 

seefizzle

Posts: 422   +292
I don't think that Bill Gates himself believes the bs he's talking about charging taxes for robots. He is getting exactly what he wants though. He wants you and I to think about the incoming robot revolution. He said previously that we are not prepared as a society for the amount of jobs that can and will be taken over by robots and automation. I think when he comes out with statements like this article talks about he is merely trying to warn us about the impending influx of robots in the workforce and the amount of jobs that won't be done by humans in the future.

I think we really need to start talking about a universal income.

The need for jobs to be performed by human beings will dwindle and I think it will happen a lot quicker than most people are prepared for.

Can your job be done by a robot? If you think your job couldn't be done by a robot, please explain why.
 
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davislane1

Can your job be done by a robot? If you think your job couldn't be done by a robot, please explain why.

1. Already is.
2. There will always be a human market.
3. Universal income won't work.

Re 1: I'm a futures trader. Back in the day, this was something done exclusively by people. Today, algos are very dominant on the scene. For a multitude of reasons, there is still demand for human traders (trust, risk mitigation, cost, etc.). There is also no need to be "hired" by a firm because it can be done as a contractor (which is what I do) or independently (which I also do).

Re 2: Robots are in high demand for corporations. Outside of that, in the consumer environment, people like to work with people. This is especially true in the "arts" (music, writing, etc.). Technology has tried repeatedly to gain a foothold in these areas and others, only to achieve momentary fad status. Simply put, humans do not connect to robots the way they do to people, and they won't for the foreseeable future.

Re 3: Universal income will simply inflate prices, erasing its purpose. The correct solution is to teach people how to develop and market products/services that can be sold in that environment. This is a far more valuable and, moving forward, important skill than qualifying for a traditional "job." In short, education needs to change from teaching people how to fact memorize (order filling) to teaching them how to market (selling).
 

Kraemepoo

Posts: 50   +25
Automation, the reason you have a computer, a nice home, a car, a phone, cheap and plentiful food, appliances etc.
There is a second side to the automation equation. People lose jobs, yes, but those jobs are no longer an efficient use of labor. Those same workers are now free from being needed to put 3 pairs of socks into a packages 40 hours a week. The effect of one less worker on the job is small, but on the large scale, that means prices for every product go down, and lost labor is always just moved to another service. If every job lost stayed lost, we would be at 98% unemployment. Seems that's not the case, We have roughly the same unemployment as we did 100 years ago, but live FAR better. Thanks automation. Screw you with your socialist money grab Bill Gates.
 

bluto 2050

Posts: 270   +33
pppfffttt.....IIRC that old fool wasn't taxing the Microsoft computer bots when he was CEO there or selling bot code for industrial robots and embedded windows and so on ☺

Aside from murderous dictators and elite globalist liberal rubbish like this fool with too much money and too litle thought there is nothing worse than an idle rich poorly geopolitically educated old fool lacking good common sense with naturally aging declining critical thought and or soon to be a vacant mind trying to tell the rest of us how to run the world vis a vis his delusional thinking that his wealth despite an unfinished and maybe poor education in fact gives him some unique insights the rest of the population and body politic lacks .

Gates , George Soros, Tom Steyers ,Jeff Bezos ,Obama and Jerry Brown should be committed to an insane asylum or exiled to another planet after we take thier excess money beyond modest sustenance for the treasury fund since they like taxes so much as long as it isn't them geting taxed and use it for legitimate earmarked purposes outside of the usual waste and fraud of federal spending .
 
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johnehoffman

Posts: 45   +65
There is plenty of work to be done with or without robots. Our roads are terrible. Our infrastructure is crumbling in much of the country. People cannot afford all the things they want and would buy more if the cost were reduced. The answer is not for the Government to grab more of the nation's wealth. It is to put people whose jobs are eliminated to work doing other things that are not currently being done. In fact, we are bringing in immigrants to do work for which companies allegedly cannot find Americans to do. If jobs are being eliminated, we can simply reduce the number of immigrants and put Americans to work doing the jobs that might otherwise be filled by immigrants.

And why single out robots for special tax treatment? Even the most menial jobs can be done by fewer people thanks to innovation. Shall we tax shovels because a guy with a shovel can move more material than 2 guys without shovels? Shall we tax automatic washing machines because a housewife can do something else while the clothes are being washed instead of standing out by a river beating the clothes with a stick as is still done in many third world countries?

The Government's answer to EVERYTHING is more taxes. People aren't getting enough food? Raise taxes to pay for the Government to distribute food. People are getting too fat? Raise money for the Government to pay for ads to tell people not to eat too much of the free food? There's a drought? It's warmer than last year? Raise taxes to combat global warming. It's colder than last year? Raise taxes to pay to combat climate change. (Things haven't changed much. Five thousand years ago, if there was a drought, the High Priests would call for animal owners to donate animals to be sacrificed to please the Gods. They'd burn the entrails in a special ceremony, and then eat the good parts of the animal after everyone else went home.)

I notice Gates isn't calling for taxes on foreign workers companies like Microsoft hire to do coding abroad rather than pay Americans to do it. It's always we need more taxes from SOMEONE ELSE.
 
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davislane1

pppfffttt......That old fool wasn't taxing the Microsoft computer bots when he was CEO there was he ?

Some say he once took a bonus and filed it as a tax on his own automation systems, and that when the IRS questioned him about it he told them to think about the children.

All we know is...

He's called the Gates!
 

Greg S

Posts: 1,607   +442
You can easily tell a company is using Robots when starts laying off it's 'Human-tax-paying', workers...

How so? Companies lay off workers all the time in restructuring efforts, to please share holders, and just simply because their business might be failing and has to cut costs. Downsizing human employees does not indicate automation is occurring. It might, but unless you can prove it, the business won't be paying nonsensical fees.

Why on earth would think it's Okay for any business to innovate Humans out of work, then profit from a smaller workforce + not reduce the cost of their products and/or services?

The point of business is to make a profit for the share holders and owners. Businesses are not designed to be charities for employees and the general public. You seem to have a fundamental problem understanding why businesses exist.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 19,127   +8,245
"Tax on robot workers", is just Bill Gates stating a concept in the most headline grabbing way he could concoct.

Now, reforming the tax code to surcharge companies with a heavy emphasis on robotic production would be more appropriate. But god knows, we haven't gotten any action out of DC on tax reform, since....., well......like never.

Gates walked away with billions. Was that money in a tax shelter loophole for the ultra wealthy?

In fact, Gates is suffering from what I consider a form of "survivor's guilt". Wherein, he has to give a bunch of money away, to alleviate the heavy burden of guilt he carries from the way in which he earned it.

Besides, Mr. Gates' money, has to be earning interest even as we speak. So, it is altogether likely, he has more money at the end of a fiscal year than he starts with, in spite of what he gives away.
....[ ].....Reminds me of a Farscape episode where 90% of the population was lawyers....[ ]....
Oh, you saw that one too.;) It was, (at least IMHO), a take off on a segment of "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", where they stumbled upon a planet consisting of nothing but "middlemen". Who, as I'm sure you're aware, are at least as worthless as lawyers.

(The only drawback to getting rid of them altogether, is the fact that what you're left with, is corporations like Amazon, Apple, Samsung, Intel, and Google who are hell bent on world domination in their own right).

I want robots to replace CEOs, and all their minions, and share holders.
We haven't been able to really perfect AI. Have you learned nothing from movies such "Deus ex Machina"?

As soon as an AI becomes self aware and smart enough, it turns into a sociopath. The same goes for CEOs, or it must, since they're all sociopaths as well.

So, I say we get AI perfected first, (in an environment away from people), then we try and perfect "AC" technology, (artificial conscience). Then, and only then, should we risk turning them loose in the corporate world. :eek:
ppfftttt....maybe a retired curmudgeon robot that has to complain and eat and go potty now and then ☺
With a "retirement robot" you could even cut down on trips to the loo. After all, a stainless steel prostate would age a lot better than any human male's.
 
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