The 2020 Democrats and Artificial Intelligence

December 4, 2019 | Alternative Investments

Vox Media quizzed seven candidates on how to address AI and job displacement.

Artificial intelligence and job displacement. That has emerged as an important them among working-class voters across the United States. With AI now targeting white-collar jobs, the stakes are going even higher. This week, Vox Media asked five candidates a question about artificial intelligence.

“How, if at all, should tech companies be held responsible for the jobs they eliminate with their innovations?”

Here are the results and the solutions pitched by each candidate

Artificial Intelligence and Job Displacement

Bernie Sanders says that AI must serve human needs and not just corporate profits. Sanders says that he would end tax breaks that incentivize the replacement of human workers. He also wants a rule that would issue 20% of company stock to a “worker-controlled fund” and award 45% of board seats to employees if the company has more than $100 million in revenue. Sanders argues that workers would vote to not automate their companies and thus replace their jobs.

Elizabeth Warren wants to pass the Accountable Capital Act, which would allow workers to elect board members. Warren also wants to hit executives with fortunes above $50 million with a wealth tax. She went on to state they would fund universal healthcare and green research, two things that have little to do with the question.

Pete Buttigieg suggests that innovation may be outpacing new industries and thus new jobs more than ever. The candidate places a significant emphasis on education and digital learning. He goes on to state that he plans to invest $50 billion in workforce training to prepare for the jobs of the future. Finally, he suggests that gig workers like Uber drivers deserve the right to unionize.

Tom Steyer talked about the need for the government to ensure the health and welfare of the American worker. He didn’t address the question about the responsibility of tech companies and instead hints that it’s the job of the government to create mandates on healthcare, retirement security, and livable wages.

Michael Bennet says that companies must consider the impact of innovation on their workforce and society. He argues they should bolster spending on training employees for jobs of the future. He then pivoted to a conversation about the government’s role in policy needed to address education and working conditions.


Based on the responses, it appears that Sanders actually has a plan to address artificial intelligence and the impact on workers. Whether it’s a good plan is to be decided by voters and economists. Sanders believes that greater control at the board level for employees would reduce automation and job displacement.

Warren, meanwhile, pushes for board seats for workers, before turning to a word salad about taxes and free college and healthcare. The remaining candidates don’t appear to have any plan and simply fell back on the usual talking points about the government’s role in society.

Related: Green’s Push Canadian Robot Tax to Combat AI

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