The European Parliament voted in February on a resolution calling for the Commission to work towards the establishment of a legal and ethical framework for robots in order to control their rise in power in society. The possibility of a taxation of the robots was not retained. However, this subject is sure to spark more debate, and was even taken up in the presidential campaign.
Benoit Hamon [the French socialist candidate] plans to establish employer contributions on value added and no longer on the number of employees to finance social protection, while jobs are increasingly entrusted to machines.
The PS candidate would also like to finance part of the universal income, the flagship proposal of his program, by the robots. Bill Gates also advocates a tax on robots, however instead of remunerating unemployed workers, he mentions the idea of using this money to train the employees who will have to find a new job. However, some economists believe that this tax could be counterproductive.
Nicolas Bouzou [a French economist] explains that it would harm growth and jobs by the lack of investment in robots, he argues it is necessary to ensure significant productivity gains. If the subject divides, it starts from the hypothesis that the digital revolution will destroy many jobs. However, a report of the French public Commission For Employment (COE) estimated in January that less than 10% of jobs could disappear in France due to automation and digitisation.
Moreover, with 162,000 robots (data collected by the company Roland Berger), Germany had around five times more robots in 2014 than France while Germany was already in a situation of full employment. As N. Bouzou argues, “technology does not generate an increasing scarcity of work but a mutation”. The main challenge now lies in anticipating these mutations.
Estelle, Financing Innovation Consultant, Leyton France