Andrus Ansip, the European Commissioner in charge of the Digital Single Market, has said that he does not support Bill Gates’ idea of taxing robots that replace human workers.
Microsoft founder Gates made an argument for robots incurring taxes equivalent to that worker’s income taxes during an interview with Quartz in February. “Right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed,” he said. “If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level.”
But Ansip has made it clear that he is not in favor of a robot tax. Speaking during a CNBC-hosted panel at the Pioneers tech conference in Vienna on Thursday, Ansip said the “aim of taxation is not just (to) collect revenues… but to increase salaries of teachers and police,” CNBC reports. “No way. No way,” he added, when asked if he would support the tax.
In his February interview, Gates argued that these taxes, paid by a robot’s owners or makers, would be used to help fund labor force retraining. He even suggested that the policy would intentionally “slow down the speed of that adoption [of automation] somewhat,” giving more time to manage the broader transition.