A tax on robots? Why San Francisco is seeking one - WFSB 3 Connecticut

A tax on robots? Why San Francisco is seeking one

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Robots build our cars and can now drive them too; they can make our dinner and deliver it right to the front door. That means humans who used to do those jobs may no longer be needed.

"It's not immigration. It's not the off-shoring of jobs. Automation and robots is absolutely the number one challenge to jobs in the future."

That's why San Francisco supervisor Jane Kim is proposing a so-called "robot tax" on local companies that automate jobs and put people out of work.

"So that we can help invest back in human capital and help people retool for other jobs."

The idea isn't a new one. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates suggested a robot tax to slow down the speed of automation. And leaders in Europe have also considered similar legislation.

But the tax doesn't sit well with some Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, like the makers of this security robot which patrols local malls and parking lots, and may someday make mall security guards obsolete.

Robotics companies also say the technology makes work less monotonous and frees up humans to do more rewarding work.

Labor unions say they're grateful there's an ongoing discussion about automation, one of the biggest challenges their members face today.

"I think we have to partner with these companies and work with them on how this is going to be done, how it's going to be run out, what's going to happen to people."

Kim says money collected from automation companies could go toward free college, retraining or even to supplement the wages of workers.

While a robot tax might seem far-fetched, a pizza-making robot wasn't on the radar a few years ago either.

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