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With a mass AI replacement looming on the horizon, the Green Party and its leader have proposed a “robot tax” to help address worker concerns should they be replaced by automated robots.
Even though this technology isn’t here yet, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says a pre-emptive strategy is necessary.
“We have to reduce the anxieties for the individual worker,” said May. “What does it mean for workers if they are vulnerable to being replaced, whether they’re a checkout clerk, a worker in a factory, the driver of a truck or even a doctor?
“What does it mean if we are going to turn to automation to replace a workforce? That’s worth talking about before it starts happening to us.”
May says that if a company were to lay-off an employee, that company would have to pay a tax equivalent to that employee’s income tax. Small business would be exempt from such a tax, says May.
The money the government gets would then be used to fund education and retraining programs, as well as making post-secondary school more affordable. This would allow workers to stay competitive in a rapidly changing economy.
“The last thing we need when coping with AI and how to adjust to it is a shrinking tax base because people are replaced with robots and robots aren’t paying taxes,” said May. “That’s how we are getting ahead of this issue.”
According to the Vancouver Sun, some experts say that conversations regarding such tax proposals are necessary and discussions on the issue of automation, replacement, and taxation are ongoing in thinktanks across the world.
“The idea is to make sure there’s not a sudden jolt to our tax revenue if a whole bunch of things are automated at once,” said Amita Kuttner, Green Party candidate and scientist with a Ph.D. in astrophysics and astronomy.
“Our proposal is the beginning of the conversation because there is no set precedence,” she says.