America’s youngest ever female congressional representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has said that people should welcome robots taking their jobs during a talk at SXSW.
Sure seems like a strange statement coming from a politician who’s on the front line of a new left-leaning liberal agenda. However, AOC continued to explain she thinks people should fight the economic system that makes automation a threat, not the robots themselves.
During the talk, an audience member asked Ocasio-Cortez about the threat of automated labor. Ocasio-Cortez replied:
“We should not be haunted by the specter of being automated out of work…we should be excited by that. But the reason we’re not excited by it is because we live in a society where if you don’t have a job, you are left to die. And that is, at its core, our problem.”
AOC went on to cite a proposal from Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, who has suggested a robot tax. In the proposal, Gates proposed that companies who automate humans out of jobs should have their machines taxed at 90%. And Gates isn’t alone – apparently, universal basic income isn’t an unfashionable opinion amongst tech giants in Silicon Valley, who think it could be a good solution to unemployment caused by increasing automation.
No one has actually taken any of these ideas forward yet though. Two years ago, the European Union rejected a robot tax, saying it would discourage innovation. However, AOC argued that robot tax is maybe a less controversial way to impose higher corporation taxes. Whilst Gates’s vision is more geared towards freeing up humans for other work, AOC took a more idealistic view:
“We should be excited about automation, because what it could potentially mean is more time educating ourselves, more time creating art, more time investing in and investigating the sciences, more time focused on invention, more time going to space, more time enjoying the world that we live in…because not all creativity needs to be bonded by wage.”
Although the congresswoman didn’t propose a specific plan for dealing with automation during the talk, she positioned herself yet again at the forefront of the fight against inequality and corporate greed:
“We should be working the least amount we’ve ever worked, if we were actually paid based on how much wealth we were producing. But we’re not. We’re paid on how little we’re desperate enough to accept. And then the rest is skimmed off and given to a billionaire.”