Robot tax would be counterproductive, says report

A tax on robots aimed at preventing mechanisation and artificial intelligence rendering large parts of the workforce redundant would be both unnecessary and counterproductive, according to a new report by the Institute of Economic Affairs. It said taxing robots would only save about 15% of jobs, while at the same time making it hard to invest in many new technologies, as the UK would be out of step with the development of the world economy. 

The report noted that there is little or no evidence to suggest that mechanisation is reducing jobs and stated that the proportion of the population in employment is as high as a century ago. While technology may destroy some jobs, it creates others, the report pointed out. 

Editorial Research Fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs Len Shackleton said, "While the future may be uncertain, we should not be pushed into premature and damaging policy interventions on the basis of fears and panics." This view contradicts those expressed by figures such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who called for a robot tax last year.