Bill Gates wants robots to pay income tax to help protect human workplaces, slow the pace of technological disruption and (we presume) ease off the risk of revolution. But what’s a robot income tax than a corporation or wealth tax by another name?
Most of civilised history has been spent trying to reduce the number of hours humans work in back-breaking menial jobs and increasing the number of hours worked in safe and intellectually rewarding knowledge jobs. Technologists, for some reason, think it’s now logical to encourage the opposite, and the phenomenon is leading to an inflation paradox.
After Mark Zuckerberg published his broad-ranging manifesto last week, some say Facebook’s centralisation and lack of accountability is worrying. Others say the social network will kill journalism as we know it. Those concerns are appropriate — in fact, they might not be sounding the alarm bells loudly enough.
If we want an economy full of meaningful jobs, not just ones that pay the bills or enable subsistence, we need to cater to the full spectrum of the human condition. This means understanding that for those who are that way inclined, manual work can be deemed a fair trade for security, simplicity, a good base standard of living and a peaceful life — and that this in itself is meaningful.