Bill Gates wants to tax robots, but one robot maker says that's 'as intelligent' as taxing software

2017-03-27 - CNBC article by Geoff Cutmore and Everett Rosenfeld - March 18, 2017
Bill Gates suggested in a recent interview that robots should be taxed when they are doing the role of a human worker, but the CEO of a leading automation firm took issue with that idea.

ABB Group CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer, speaking Saturday with CNBC on the sidelines of the China Development Forum in Beijing, suggested that many have the wrong idea about robots' place in the economy, and he took on the Microsoft co-founder's tax proposition.
"Taxing robotics is as intelligent as taxing software," he said. "They are both productivity tools. You should not tax the tools, you should tax the outcome that's coming."

Robotics, he explained, is one of the fastest growing technologies in the world, and it makes a "significant contribution" to society by helping to make work safer and less dull.

"If you look at economies with the lowest unemployment rates in the world and correlate it with robotics: Germany, Japan, South Korea have the highest robotics rates with more than 300 robots per 10,000 workers, and they have the lowest unemployment rates," Spiesshofer said. "So robotization and automation, wealth and prosperity go hand-in-hand."

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