Robots are slated to replace a significant portion of the human populace currently deployed in factories. That is probably a given. However, there are going to be a lot of things that will need to be hammered out before we get to the point. For one, human workers are required to pay taxes, but what happens when it is a pile of mechanical apparatus that is doing the work instead? Well, Bill Gates at least, believes that the same rules should apply to both humans and robots.
In an interview with the Quartz, the Microsoft founder said that robots who replace human workers should incur taxes equal to those incurred by the latter. Or at least, the robot owners should pay those taxes. As per Gates:
Right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed . . . If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level.
The Microsoft founder argues that these taxes will used to fund the retraining of the labor force who will lose their jobs thanks to these robots. By retraining the labor, employees like factory workers will be retrained and diverted into fields that will still require humans for the future that is to come.
What’s more, the taxes will also prevent robot owners from flooding the factories with bots and replacing all the humans. As such, there will more time to manage the transition as well. Also, and this is quite important, what will happen if humans think that robots are going to replace them? Well, you cant expect them to be too happy about it right? On the other hand, by slowing the transition the public in general will have more time to adapt themselves to the transition.
As Bill Gates puts it:
It is really bad if people overall have more fear about what innovation is going to do than they have enthusiasm . . . And, you know, taxation is certainly a better way to handle it than just banning some elements of it.
So rather than generating extra income for the government, the money generated through the taxes will be used for re-facilitating the human workers displaced after automation is brought into the game. So yes, the government is going to step in at some point and ensure that things are managed properly. Unless that happens