Presidential hopeful Bill de Blasio wants a tax on robots

New York's mayor also wants to create an agency to protect jobs from automation.

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Shelby Brown (she/her/hers) is an editor for CNET's services team. She covers tips and tricks for apps, operating systems and devices, as well as mobile gaming and Apple Arcade news. Shelby also oversees Tech Tips coverage. Before joining CNET, she covered app news for Download.com and served as a freelancer for Louisville.com.
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Shelby Brown

Mayor Bill De Blasio wants to hold robots accountable.

Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images

New York Mayor and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Bill de Blasio says American workers need to be protected from automation. In an opinion article published last week on Wired, he said as president he would issue a robot tax for corporations displacing humans and would create a federal agency to oversee automation.  

"The scale of automation in our economy is increasing far faster than most people realize, and its impact on working people in America and across the world, unless corralled, will be devastating," de Blasio wrote.

De Blasio would call the new regulator the Federal Automation and Worker Protection Agency, which would safeguard jobs and communities. In addition, his proposed "robot tax" would be imposed on large companies that eliminate jobs as they become more automated. The tax would be equal to five years of payroll taxes for each employee eliminated, according to De Blasio. 

As technology advances, so do places of employment. On Friday, IBM reported 120 million workers will need to be retrained due to the presence of artificial intelligence.

De Blasio didn't qualify for the next round of Democratic debates on Sept. 12 at 5 p.m. PT (8 p.m. ET), so a robot tax won't likely get any airtime that night anyway.

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