Translated by
2019/08/28 16:31:00

The legislation and taxes for robots




the Tax on robots is inevitable

At the end of August, 2019 economists came to a conclusion that the tax on robots is inevitable. Corporations make more and more investments in advanced technologies and the equipment for economy of costs, and the treasury spends millions of dollars for assessment of bots meanwhile.

Of course, the government already taxes robots just because the tax assesses practically everything that goes for development and production of these robots, the economist and the popular writer of science Mark Thornton notes. In certain cases there are subsidies for development of new technologies, but even they are given at the expense of taxpayers. However it is expected that in the next decades new taxes on robots will only grow.

Economists came to a conclusion that the tax on robots is inevitable
Economists came to a conclusion that the tax on robots is inevitable

Taxation of robots - the offer which for the first time is put forward by the founder of Microsoft Bill Gates as a method which the government can subdue relentless automation of labor power and finance new social programs, such as care of elderly people and education. According to Gates, the robot who replaces the factory hand should be assessed with a tax at the same level to offset losses in revenues of the state for social security of the rest of the population. The producers using robots do not agree - they are sure, as without that pay enough taxes.

But legislators are ready to support taxes on robots. They are concerned by possible recession of state revenues, the research Oxford Economics foretells that 8.5% of world labor power will be automated within 10 years. Other research conducted by the Center of the city future in New York showed that 4.4 million jobs of the city (i.e. 39%) can be potentially automated. The automated economy will create serious problems for the working most vulnerable groups, and politicians already should speak about it, economists consider.[1]


South Korea plans introduction of a tax for robots

In August, 2017 it became known of plans of South Korea first-ever to impose a tax on robots. The authorities thought of this initiative in communication by rise in unemployment.

According to the The Korea Times edition with reference to the statement of administration of the prime minister of South Korea Moon Jae-in, is going to reduce benefits from a deduction of taxes which were provided to the enterprises for investments into performance improvement of infrastructure earlier.

The tax on robots is designed to demotivate the companies to make investments in automated production, thus having released jobs for South Koreans.

South Korea is going to impose a tax on robots
South Korea is going to impose a tax on robots

By 2017 about 1.17 million South Koreans are registered as the unemployed. At the same time South Korea is one of the most robotic countries: 531 "smart" machines are the share of 10 thousand employees of production.

It agrees acting (for August, 2017) to the legislation, the companies investing in robotic industrial equipment have preferential taxation. Depending on the size of the project and the company reduction in tax for the project can be from 3% to 7%.

The prepared bill suggests to cancel this rule since January 1, 2020. Further the privilege will remain, but it will be no more than 2% of the amount of investments.

It is noted that before adoption of law it is necessary to give accurate definition to a concept the robot and to define types of robots. Possibly, for use of different robots will levy the different amounts of tax depending on that how many people are substituted by this or that automated mechanism.

The law has opponents — the companies which already use robots for delivery, packaging, collecting of waste and also producers of robots. They consider that the tax will do much harm to business and will interfere with development of innovations.[2]

Bill Gates suggested to tax work of robots

The founder of Microsoft, the billionaire Bill Gates suggested to tax work of the robots substituting the person on production. He said it in an interview[3].

"Now, if the worker-person receives $50 thousand, working at factory, then his income is assessed with a tax, and you receive income tax, social taxes and other payments. If the same work is done by the robot, then we could think of facing his work at the same level" — Gates believes.

According to Gates, the governments should be ready that substitution of many jobs in many spheres of business by robots will happen practically at the same time. The billionaire considers that tax policy — the best means for regulation of this process.

Gates believes that the means received from taxation of robots need to be spent for the help needy, lost work, and to children with limited opportunities. Besides, the taxes collected from robots will go to health care, development of infrastructure and law enforcement agencies and also retraining of the employees who lost work.

Resolution of the EU of "Regulation of civil law about robotics"

In February, 2017 the European Parliament adopted the resolution of "Regulation of civil law about robotics". The document consisting from more than hundreds of points, is devoted to the most different aspects and problems of robotics and artificial intelligence. In particular, implementation of the all-European recording system of smart machines[4] is offered[5].

As envisioned by parliamentarians, separate categories of robots should assign individual registration number which will be entered in the special register. Here persons interested will be able to find detailed information on the robot, including data on the producer, the owner and conditions of payment of compensation in case of damnification. The specialized agency on robotics and artificial intelligence which could undertake also other aspects of regulation in this area should be engaged in maintenance of a system and control.

Besides, the European Parliament absolutely fairly noticed that robotization of a human body which leads to increase of our dependence on gadgets remains one of the most fast-growing areas. But what to do to the person if the producer of an implant for some reason ceases to support him — for example, will go bankrupt?

The problem is offered to be solved creation of the independent entrusted organizations which will be engaged in preserving of operability of the vital wearable medical devices — from maintenance before repair and upgrade. Producers will be obliged to save and provide all technical information about the devices for such firms, including the copy of the source code of programs.

Insurance for the robot

Parliamentarians support also introduction of liability insurance for the harm done by the robot — by analogy with the CMTPL. Really, the level of automation of the machine is higher, the it is more difficult to identify the person bearing responsibility for damage caused by it. Therefore compulsory insurance of the risks connected with operations of robots will allow the victim to receive with guarantee compensation, and on cases which do not become covered by an insurance, the reserve compensation fund can be used.

However, the European Parliament glanced further — during an era of completely independent machines which will be able to find to themselves partners employers, to discuss conditions of agreements and to solve how them to perform. Meanwhile officials could not agree by what rules there will come responsibility for the harm done by such completely independent machine. This question is left on the near future.

Charter of roboliberties

The European Parliament and the moral party of development of robotics disturbs. Therefore as the annex to the resolution parliamentarians submitted "the code of ethics" by which to developers of robotics suggest to be guided voluntarily. Perhaps, all will easily agree with the key principles of the code: "do the benefit" and "do not do much harm" are borrowed from the well-known "laws of the roboequipment" of Isaac Asimov. The principle of independence means the voluntary informed consent of the person on interaction with the robot, and a concept of justice — the correct distribution of the benefits created at the same time.

Interesting point of this document — "right to undo", a possibility of canceling of action which should become a mandatory function of a control system of the robot. Besides, parliamentarians set a framework of future comprehensive "Charter of robotics". It is offered to think even of whether in the long term the most perfect independent robots should receive special legal status of electronic persons — "with their special rights and duties, including a duty of compensation of any harm done by them".

Legal results

It is necessary to tell that legislative process in the EU is very specific. The adopted resolution technically yet not the law: here only the European Commission has power to initiate legislation. Therefore the resolution of European Parliament should be considered as the formal address to her with a request to take these or those specific measures. A sphere on the party of legislators — and though the European Commission is not obliged to react to such documents very few people doubt that in the nearest future also the accurate law regulating robotics will be adopted. Perhaps, it will form the basis of legislations of other countries — and all our future.

Speaker of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin: laws on robots will be adopted by 2022

By 2022 according to forecasts bills, "the regulating relationship of the robot and the person" will be adopted, the speaker of the Duma Vyacheslav Volodin said during a working trip to Tatarstan. He announced emergence at the lower house of council for development of digital economy[6].


The bill of robots in Russia from Dmitry Grishin

In December, 2016 the founder of Grishin Robotics, the chairman of the board of directors and the co-founder of Mail.Ru Group drafted the law on robotics. The concept of the first-ever full law on robots prepared by Dmitry Grishin was sent for assessment to the leading scientific and expert centers of Russia and the world. It is designed to become the beginning of a discussion about legislative regulation in the field of robotics. In case of acceptance, Russia can become the first-ever state in which the relations with robots are settled in the legislation.

"Practice and distribution of robots causes a huge number of questions: what to do in case of crash of the unmanned vehicle? Who will be responsible for accidental shooting with the drone? And it only the beginning of real penetration of robots to all spheres of life. As I am sure that process of adaptation of robots will be fast, I consider correct already now to suggest to provide as the relations of people and robots in advance will be settled in laws. Responsibility for operations of robots – the main and most topical issue. For example, who is responsible for operations of the robot – its owner or the producer. Many countries are in the beginning now, and try to concentrate on regulation of separate aspects of use of robotics (for example, unmanned vehicles). But I am sure that it is important to use system approach which will help to define the general approaches in this sphere. For the industry it is important to formulate possible answers to them and to offer for them correct regulation until they were developed without us", – Dmitry Grishin, the founder of Grishin Robotics, the co-founder and the Chairman of council of directors of Mail.Ru Group commented.

Materials of the first concept of the law on robots will be directed to Institute of the state and right of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Legislation and Comparative Law under the Government of the Russian Federation, Moscow State University, the Moscow state legal academy of O.E. Kutafin, the National research university "Higher School of Economics" (in Moscow and St. Petersburg), St. Petersburg State University, the Ural state legal academy, International association of legal philosophy (IVR), Russian School of Private Law.

The separate precepts of law concerning use of robots already become effective worldwide, including the USA (Michigan, California, Nevada and other states), Great Britain, etc. From technical regulations ISO 13482:2014 about robots personal assistants is developed. However these provisions are aimed at regulation enough narrow aspects and separate categories of robots.

In Russia legal regulation can be based on the basis of several new provisions of the Civil code and also the special federal legislation in the field of robotics which would define the most basic moments.

At the same time it is possible to select several approaches of legal regulation:

  • equate robots to animals (to apply the same principles and approaches, for example, in case of the owner's liability of a source of the increased danger);
  • use the concept close to legal entities;
  • resolve an issue by analogy with individuals.

The concept based on analogy of the legal entity is submitted to the most perspective. Use of similar artificial construction, on the one hand, will allow to leave from questions of whether the robot can be considered as the personality, and – will resolve a number of practical problems with another.

The general approach can find reflection in new special regulations of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation. More detailed rules are supposed to be taken out on the level of the federal law "About Robotics". In addition to these exceptions the law can provide determination of robots in general.

For robots the special register similar to the Unified State Register of Legal Entities should be created. To creators of robots the same measures, as can be applied to owners of sources of the increased danger because the machine is capable to do harm in this or that form. Depending on type of the robot and that degree of danger which it bears for people around responsibility will lie either on the owner, or on the producer: if the robot initially bears danger and the owner is warned about it, then the owner also will answer, and the producer should pay for the injuries caused by the harmless robot vacuum cleaner, Grishin in Republic interview[7] says[8][9].

Grishin offers four scenarios when operations of the robot fall under criminal law:

  • creation of the robot for commission of offenses
  • shutdown of the functions blocking a possibility of damnification to the person
  • creation of the robot which has no such block from the very beginning
  • designing of the robot without understanding that he can be used for damnification to the person

The working group in European Parliament

For 2016 there is no separate legislation devoted to robotics and responsibility for behavior of independent robots in one country of the world. However in European Parliament there is at this time a working group which deals with this issue. Its work began quite recently, there are no final offers yet, but on the website of European Parliament it is possible to find interim[10]in which it is told about the legislation for robotics[11].

In it it is told that creators of robots should be guided by the same laws of robotics of Azimov. "The smart robot" is described in the document so the mechanism capable to autonomy due to data analysis from sensors or information exchange with the environment, and having capability to self-training. Such robots should be registered in the European agency on robotics and artificial intelligence. Autonomous cars also concern robots, in the document it is highlighted that legislative arrangements in relation to them should be developed and approved as soon as possible.

One of the most serious questions of any legislation on robotics — responsibility for what will be made by the robot. In the document it is separately emphasized that it is necessary to consider autonomy of robots in decision making. Than it is higher, that the owner should bear less responsibility for its acts. The longer the robot studied the person, the more responsibility should lie on the teacher, at the same time it is necessary to distinguish the capabilities purchased from the person with those which the robot learned.

The question of the one who will be responsible for the damage caused by the most independent robot, is offered to be solved using an obligatory insurance; i.e. finally the producer, let and in the form of insurance after all is responsible for effects. Experts also suggest to create fund or several funds (on one on each category of robots) which will be replenished due to assignments from producers and to be spent for compensation for damage from operations of robots.

Creation of the special charter of robotics in which ethical principles of development of independent devices will be described is offered. They are as follows:

  • robots should act for the benefit of people;
  • robots should not harm the person;
  • the benefit which is brought by robots should be available to everything, in particular it concerns medical robots.

The principles are similar to laws of robotics of Azimov; it is supposed that any developer of robots should have them in a type during creation of new devices. The source code of robots should be open for a possibility of investigation of incidents. For the same reasons the history of operations of the robot should be available.


The European Parliament asks a question and that will occur if robots gain more knowledge and skills, than we are going to provide to them, and finally will begin to constitute danger to people. This offer is in that at the legislative level it was established that all robots should have the switching off button on a case of a dangerous situation.

They cannot harm people

It would seem, directly across Azimov: this measure proposed by European Parliament will prohibit the companies production of any robots who are intended for damnification to human beings. In terms of common sense – yes, such measure is simply necessary. If it is approved, then it can extend also to the "robots murderers" developed for conducting military operations.

Lack of emotions

It is not just specific measure, but a serious reminder. The European Parliament wants that all people accurately understood that robots have no feelings (at least, at this stage of development), therefore, they should not dare to show counterfeit feelings which are absent actually. Insurance

The producer and the owner of the robot will bear responsibility for causing any harm which the robot can cause. Therefore owners large (and highly dangerous) robots should issue the insurance policy (for example as it becomes concerning automobile means – like an analog of our CMTPL).

Duties and rights of machines

The report of European Parliament, to surprise of many, defines robots as "electronic people" and gives to them the rights and duties (just as they are available for people), but their content still is not determined yet. Legislators even consider such question that robots should bear responsibility for the actions to the law along with their producer and the owner.

All of us are taxpayers (Even robots)

One of disputable measures which was included in offers on robots - for the purpose of decrease in social effects of rise in unemployment, contributions to social insurance funds can oblige to perform robots and to pay taxes as though they were real workers. Thus, they will promote replenishment of treasury of pension and medical funds.

Basic uniform income

Since many people can appear without work, in the report of European Parliament it is also told about a possibility of creation of a system of basic income which will guarantee to people the minimum level of income. It will allow to facilitate transition from the business case based on human work to almost full automation of work.

It is planned that this legislative initiative will be discussed by European Commission which will decide whether it is necessary to regulate processes of integration of robots into society for minimization of adverse effects which reasons they can become[12][13].

Consideration in the UN of a question of prohibition of fighting robots

In 2016 deal with an issue of regulation of use of robots in the UN, but from a different perspective. The question of robots is under consideration[14] of a conference of the UN on disarmament — many human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, consider that use of independent military robots has to be forbidden by conventions on rules of warfare. While such robots are not used (operators manage widespread UAVs), but creation of the robot capable to independently make the decision on murder of the opponent, quite perhaps.

Law enforcement researches concerning robots in the USA

In lack of the special legislation, in 2016 the existing laws are applied to robots. The teacher of the university of Washington Ryan Keylo in detail sorted[15]as robots and the legislation in the USA coexist. According to him, the American right for six decades tries to understand, how exactly it is necessary to treat situations with participation of different mechanisms of different degree of autonomy.

The American courts as Keylo found out, faced extremely unusual questions concerning robots more than once: for example, decided whether it is possible to say that robots perform music in the same sense, as people. The scientist considers that the robot is a device which is capable to collect data on what occurs around it, to estimate these data and to work depending on the outputs; these three qualities, according to Keylo, distinguish robots from the notebook or any other hi-tech device.

The question of whether the robot can be considered as the same contractor of music, as well as the person, was lifted in the USA in 1987. The restaurant in Maryland for entertainment delivered in the hall several humanoid mechanisms which on the program which is in advance put in them were played musical instruments. In terms of the legislation at restaurants it is necessary to pay a separate tax for any execution of live music, and the restaurant had to prove in court that these robots — that other as the mechanical jukebox.

After long trial the court after all decided that such robots cannot be considered contractors in the usual sense of this word — they act according to the program, cannot be mistaken or improvise, and, in fact, differ in nothing from a clockwork toy monkey which hits the drum. Then the robots capable to perform music without the set program, was not, now their creation is quite possible, but how exactly to treat them — as contractors or just advanced jukebox, not clearly.

One more curious case concerned detection of the sunk ship. According to maritime law, the one who the first will find fragments of the sunken vessel long ago and belongs to that exclusive right on everything that was on its board, including gold and other values. In the late eighties researchers detected the steamship "Central America" which sank in 1857 with a gold load. It was succeeded to detect it with the help of the pilotless submarine, and there was a reasonable question: whether it possesses the rights to treasures. The court supported treasure-hunters: it decided that people who via its cameras saw ship fragments managed the submarine so any need to send to the place of the crash of divers and in addition to announce the rights, was not. But here is how to be if the submarine not only pilotless, but also autonomous (i.e. is not controlled the person), it is unknown — similar cases in the history were not yet.

Ryan Keylo concludes that in the American right now the robot is treated as the programmable machine executing a will of the person, and cases when the autonomous behavior would understand was not. And on given the moment a situation such is that the creator or the owner of the robot bears responsibility for his actions though actually there is a set of machines which are programmed to make independent decisions depending on the events around.