Andrew Yang, a Chinese-American tech entrepreneur born to Taiwanese immigrants in New York, is running for President of the United States. As the first round of Democratic Party debates finished last week, Yang, a political outsider, racked up 108,000 new twitter followers, dwarfing second highest gainer and apparent “winner” Kamala Harris, who gained 38,000. Better yet, Andrew Yang spoke the least of all the candidates, only 2:58 minutes, was given just four questions, and did not interrupt others at all.
Yang is widely or perhaps only known, as “an Asian man running for president who wants to give everyone $1,000 a month.” His “Freedom Dividend” is a policy based on the principle of Universal Basic Income, which compensates for labor displacement caused by advances in automation by providing every American adult $1,000 a month with no strings attached.
The consummate underdog, Andrew Yang has grown his campaign primarily by effective social media promotion, as his Twitter followers or “friends” as he called them, dubbed the #YangGang, increased from 40,000 to 500,000. Despite his “Freedom Dividend” receiving most of the media attention, Yang’s platform consists of an extensive and comprehensive set of policies that provide substantive solutions to America’s problems, unlike the boisterous pandering many politicians use to gain headlines. Yang’s pragmatic approach distinguishes himself among the field, even as media outlets seek to focus the spotlight on the more “big name” candidates like Vice President Joe Biden.
When pressed on what to do regarding China, Yang mentioned that IP theft was “a massive problem”, but then went on to stress that he did not agree with the tactics of Trump’s trade war, claiming that it only hurt Americans, and Chinese, while benefitting Southeast Asian countries who have stepped into the production vacuum caused by the tariffs. It’s clear that Yang does not agree with the current U.S. administrations foreign policy towards China. When asked to choose one foreign policy relationship that he would “reset”, Yang said, “China, we need to cooperate with them on climate change, AI and other issues – North Korea.” Yang clearly understands the absolutely massive strategic importance of the bilateral relationship between the world’s two largest economies.
Given the current technological arms race between the United States and China, Yang’s techno-centric approach to policy-making should increase his appeal to American voters who see the United States’ technological development lagging behind China’s pace of innovation and implementation. Of his over 100 policy ideas, here is a breakdown of the innovative tech-focused initiatives Yang has put forth:
Data as a Property Right
Everyday each individual generates an incredible abundance of personal data. Andrew Yang believes that this data is proprietary and should be owned by the individual. He advocates for this control over personal data to avoid the abuse of data in instances like Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal. Yang wants the use of any data to be clearly stipulated by companies, and require consent in the form of opting-in.
Yang supports the modernization of the voting process in the United States. He believes that American’s should be able to vote from their smartphone via an app, using blockchain technology to create a verified, secure and immutable ledger to prevent hacking. This will drastically increase voter participation, especially at the local level. He also advocates for automatic voter registration and lowering the voting age to 16.
Yang believes that the current United States’ electrical energy infrastructure is old, outdated, insecure, and far too dependent on dirty fossil fuels. His policy encourages renewed investment in new, cleaner assets and innovative management practices, to avoid increasingly high and environmentally destructive energy costs. The updated electrical infrastructure will include the widespread implementation of data-driven smart meters, that can collect relevant utility data to fuel optimization algorithms for efficient resource management, reducing costs, and protecting the environment. An electricity grid driven by big data will add value for consumers and providers alike, allowing for informed decisions on resource allocation.
Crypto Digital Asset Regulation
Yang believes that in order to bolster the competitiveness of the U.S cyptocurrency market compared to China and Europe, clear federal guidelines must be established to regulate this new technology. Currently, there are a multitude of conflicting legislations from different levels of government regarding cyptocurrency. Yang wants to provide an all encompassing federal solution to cryptocurrency regulation, which has so far failed to keep pace with the innovation in the sector.
Fund Medical Technology Innovation
Yang advocates for the widespread emphasis on medical technologies, crediting prior innovations including vaccines, antiseptics, antibiotics, and other elements of modern medicine with the increased health of Americans. He specifically stipulates that this technology must also extend into rural, underserved areas where preventative care is not as financially incentivized.
Regulate AI and other Emerging Technologies
As the AI era begins and technology increasingly plays a crucial roles in all facets of human life, the need for policymakers with an acute understanding of these technologies is vital to the future prosperity of not just Americans, but humans worldwide. Yang himself says, “Technological innovation shouldn’t be stopped, but it should be monitored and analyzed to make sure we don’t move past a point of no return. This will require cooperation between the government and private industry to ensure that developing technologies can continue to improve our lives without destroying them.” The current regulatory framework is completely unprepared for the AI revolution that is to come. While countries like China are quickly adapting and implementing these technologies and developing regulatory guidelines, the United States lags behind. Andrew Yang is looking to change that.
Quantum Computing and Encryption Standards
Yang acknowledges that our current encryption systems are adequate, however with the immanent arrival of quantum computing, he believes we will need to seriously increase the competency of both offense and defensive quantum computing capabilities to keep up with other nations. He outlines this objective in a clear two step process:
“First, and immediately, we need to invest in and develop new encryption standards and systems, and immediately shift to using these quantum computing-resistant standards to protect our most sensitive data. This won’t be easy or cheap, but it is necessary.
Second, we must heavily invest in quantum computing technology so that we develop our own systems ahead of our geopolitical rivals.”
A Candidate for the Future
Although Andrew Yang is still a long shot to win the nomination of the Democratic Party, he raises a host of issues with the United States’ government’s attitude towards technology, and proposes solutions to update the government and its policies to create an environment conducive to embracing innovation and using it to constructively augment the economic and social welfare for all Americans. With the intensifying competition between the United States and China, it is imperative for Americans to choose a candidate who is prepared to embrace new technologies and implement policy to maximize innovations’ positive impact. Andrew Yang is a candidate with an eye towards the future, and with the long-term foresight often lacking in the myopic American political arena.