Job-stealing robots should be taxed the same as humans, Bill Gates says. "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 tells Quartz. He says governments should tax companies that replace workers with machines and use that money to fund jobs that can only be performed by humans, such as caring for children and the elderly. In what is perhaps a surprising declaration for a man who built his fortune through innovation, the billionaire philanthropist contends the pace of automation in job-killing industries ought to be slowed, and taxes can help do that. "It is really bad if people overall have more fear about what innovation is going to do than they have enthusiasm," he says.
While the European Parliament last week nixed a robot tax for now, notes the Telegraph, such a levy is being pushed by the French socialist candidate for president. But the idea of taxing machines is picking up steam even in the unlikely climes of Silicon Valley, which seems to favor the customers, not the industry, footing the bill, per the Financial Times. But the world's richest man doesn't think manufacturers would mind paying up. "I don’t think the robot companies are going to be outraged that there might be a tax," he says. "It’s OK." Skeptics took to Twitter, blaming Microsoft's own technology for lost human jobs. (Read the full interview here.)