The European Parliament's committee on legal affairs created a draft motion for legislation that may eventually lead to taxation on robots. The motion is a response to the new industrial revolution and calls for robot workers to be classed as "electronic persons", a status that would make their owners liable to paying social security taxes. It would involve the creation of a register for smart autonomous robots, which would link each one to funds to cover legal liabilities.
While some see this as a way to tackle fears over wealth inequality and unemployment, others fear this is just more bureaucracy that threatens to stifle growth.
The draft motion called on the European Commission to consider "that at least the most sophisticated autonomous robots could be established as having the status of electronic persons with specific rights and obligations".
It also suggested the creation of a register for smart autonomous robots, which would link each one to funds established to cover its legal liabilities.
Patrick Schwarzkopf, managing director of the VDMA's robotic and automation department, says such legislation would stunt the development of robotics. He also points there's no proven correlation between automation and unemployment:
Schwarzkopf said there was no proven correlation between increasing robot density and unemployment, pointing out that the number of employees in the German automotive industry rose by 13 percent between 2010 and 2015, while industrial robot stock in the industry rose 17 percent in the same period.
The Reuters article mentions the motion will face an uphill battle to win backing in the European Parliament. Furthermore, as the European Parliament lacks authority to propose legislation, it would be a non-binding resolution at best.