Andrew Yang, former candidate for United States president and New York City mayor and founder of the Forward Party, had sobering observations about the uses of blockchain, or its lack of use, in the United States and U.S. regulation of artificial intelligence (AI) when he spoke Nov. 16 at the North American Blockchain Summit (NABS) in Fort Worth, TX.
Yang, who described himself as “enormous believer in smart money, smart currencies,” said he saw blockchain and Web3 technology in a sorry state, especially in the United States, which creates the risk of firms fleeing overseas. Part of the problem is public perception, Yang said:
“The way to avoid this fate it is to have positive use cases for blockchain in solving problems for the American people. […] Unfortunately, what they see in the news is just Sam Bankman-Fried and FTX.”
“We have not scratched the surface of what these tools can do to combat poverty,” Yang said. He saw other potential applications of blockchain technology in civic life as well. “Something I'm super passionate about, why is it that we can't vote on our mobile phones?” he said.
Yang raised concerns about AI too, saying U.S. policy on AI is “fairly limited, maybe even incoherent.” Yang was among the 2,600 tech leaders and researchers who signed an open letter calling for a moratorium on training AI systems more powerful than GPT-4. He reiterated at NABS, “We may be getting ahead of ourselves with the development of these generative models.”
AI is intimately tied to politics, Yang said, because of the effect it could have on campaigning and public life in general. He said:
“You saw a deep fake of the Pentagon on fire and the markets moved on that.”
The U.S. regulatory approach — “let's wait until the fiasco happens and then we'll have hearings about it afterwards,” Yang called it — and the “winner-take-all” economy is part of the problem. In that atmosphere, the benefits of the technological advances will be divided highly unevenly, making the existing divisions in U.S. political life worse.
An IPR special correspondent attended the recent kickoff of the Florida Forward Party, where Andrew Yang stated he is backing Rep. Dean Phillips over President Joe Biden in the Democratic primary. Follow IPR for more! #flapolhttps://t.co/7jl6oR3lsv— Independent Political Report (@I_P_R) November 16, 2023
Social media is governed by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, Yang said. Facebook didn’t even exist in 1996. So, while legislation on AI is expected to pass soon in the European Union, “We're in danger of falling right into space because our legislative body is not functioning at a high level.”