29 May 2018

Everything suggests that robots will have an impact on the future of work. Between 36% and 50% of today's jobs are expected to dissapear, according to studies.

While it is true that many jobs are being automated, it is also important to highlight that this change is driving a new employment model and creating jobs. Looking on the bright side, robots would mean shorter workdays, which would give people more spare time for leisure, research or development of new ideas and products.

This tendency has also prompted advocates of the Basic Universal Income to speak out. If work were done by robots, enough wealth could be generated for everyone to collect an income to cover their needs. The question is: how would this aid be financed?

Susana Franco, a researcher at Orkestra and expert on employment and well-being, gave her opinion on this subject at the Eztabai debates, jointly with Antton Tomasena, General Director of Innovation, Technology and Internationalisation at the Gipuzkoa Regional Council, and Vincent Lefebvre, Director of Management and Entrepreneurship at Audiencia Business School, Nantes.

They discussed alternatives such as taxes on robots (a proposal that Bill Gates supports, as does the socialist candidate in the last French presidential election). However, it is not clear what type of regulation could be put in place for companies in this sense. At this point, another doubt arises: how would this new regulation affect competitiveness?

"The question we have to raise in society as a whole is the public spending level that we want to maintain and how we are going to finance it."

There is no clear response to this question, above all if it is implemented unilaterally in some territories. This tax on robots would become a tax on capital, since it would not be robots paying but the owners of the companies that use them to produce. In this respect, Susana Franco pointed out "the question we have to raise in society as a whole is the public spending level that we want to maintain and how we are going to finance it". If production rises because robots can produce more efficiently and the wealth created is less dependent on labour, it might make sense for companies' taxes to be increasingly higher to prevent inequality. Improved competitiveness that only benefits a small part of society does not seem to be best scenario.

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Related post: "Flexicurity: a solution to the duality between stable and precarious jobs?". See it here:

Flexicurity: a solution to the duality between stable and precarious jobs?

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