A robot produced by Japan's Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratories called 'Kodomoroid' Japan 2014 is on view at the ROBOT exhibition at the Science Museum in London on February 7, 2017. / AFP / BEN STANSALL
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Bill Gates has backed a tax on robots to offset the human cost of automated production, echoing moves in the industrial era. But others say it would thwart technologies that will create the jobs of the future. Mr Gates claimed a further potential benefit from a robot tax: By slowing the pace of automation and putting fewer people out of work, it might reduce the risk of a more serious backlash that could lead to some new technologies being banned altogether.One is that it is not at all obvious how job-destroying technologies could be identified or taxed.Most forms of automation usually involve technologies that cannot be directly linked to specific job losses.Stopping short of that, Mr Gates proposed using robot tax receipts to train workers for the jobs the robots cannot do – particularly in the caring professions, which may offer the best hope for avoiding mass human unemployment.
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