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Introduce robot tax, or face massive economic disruption warn lawyers

  • By Neil Martin
  • News
robot tax


Lawyers from the University of Surrey argue that without the creation of a “robot tax” the world is set to face economic disruption at a scale never seen in modern history.

In a paper soon to be published by the Harvard Law and Policy Review Journal, Surrey lawyers argue that current tax policies incentivise automation by allowing companies to avoid wage taxes that are collected by government. This encourages companies to automate, which will reduce tax revenues and ultimately reduce the number of people in gainful employment.

The authors believe the system should be changed so that taxes are neutral between robot and human workers. They provide several mechanisms for achieving tax neutrality, including an “automation tax”, where redundancy data would be collected locally then used to collect further taxes to the extent the government feels the lay-offs were due to automation.

Professor Ryan Abbott, Professor of Law and Health Sciences at the University of Surrey, said: “Robots can be a force for good—they have been integral to key scientific breakthroughs and they have helped us become more efficient in our work and our personal lives. However, as things stand, automation presents a clear and present danger to many jobs and tax revenues.”

“We believe a more neutral tax system will solve the imbalance that we currently face, and the revenue raised could be used to retrain those rendered technologically unemployed.

Professor Ryan Abbot will be discussing AI and the challenges they present to current law at an upcoming event. The Reasonable Robot: Autonomous Machines and the Law, will take place on Tuesday 20 March, at 7pm, in the Rik Medlik building at the University of Surrey.