South Korea has Introduced the World's First 'Robot Tax'

By Tom Pritchard on at

Amidst fears that mass automation could lead to serious unemployment problems, South Korea has just introduced what is being referred to as the world's first 'robot tax'.

According to Korea Times, the country will limit the number of tax incentives for investment in automated machinery, which is hoped to make up for the income taxes as human workers are gradually replaced. So it's not really a tax per se, rather it's the government making it less appealing for people to invest in the country's robotics industry.

An industry source told the paper that "though it is not about a direct tax on robots, it can be interpreted as a similar kind of policy considering that both involve the same issue of industrial automation."

The extra money will also be set aside for the purpose of distributing welfare should unemployment figures end up rising.

Rising unemployment as industries continue to automate there processes is a problem, with some experts predicting that a third of British jobs could be taken by robots and AI by 2030.

While South Korea is the first country to actually promise to implement these measure, this isn't the first time it's been suggested. Back in February Bill Gates said that job-stealing robots should be taxed at a similar level to human workers. He thinks that money could help slow down the seemingly-inevitable unemployment cause by robot workers, and be used to expand industries that still need actual people like healthcare.

Naturally this talk has been criticised by big business and the robotics industry, with accusations that it would stifle innovation - among other things.

South Korea's tax laws are set to expire at the end of the year, and it's expected that these new proposals will come into effect then.


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