Vice President Kamala Harris is having a bad few weeks.
After finding herself subject to mockery over her apparent inability to define the word culture reasonably succinctly, and later attracting headlines for her awkward comments during a meeting with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the vice president this week went viral over her comments about artificial intelligence.
Poor Kamala Harris…
During a roundtable discussion at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Vice President Harris attempted to describe the concept of artificial intelligence (AI) to an audience of civil rights and labor leaders. In trademark Harris style, the vice president took a serious – and daunting – political issue and turned it comical.
“I think the first part of this issue that should be articulated is AI is kind of a fancy thing,” Kamala Harris said. “First of all, it’s two letters. It means artificial intelligence, but ultimately what it is, is it’s about machine learning.”
Cracking a smile, the vice president described how artificial intelligence is capable of producing content – whether that’s an image or a piece of text – based on information provided to it.
“And so the machine is taught and part of the issue here is what information is going into the machine that will then determine, and we can predict then if we think about what information is going in, what then will be produced in terms of decisions and opinions that may be made through that process,” Kamala Harris said.
After the clip as shared on Twitter, the vice president’s awkward description of an issue that could soon impact millions of Americans’ lives went viral. The video has since been viewed more than 800,000 times – and that’s just from a single upload.
Why AI Matters for the Democrats
Joking aside, artificial intelligence is a big political issue – and something that the Democratic Party should be worried about.
Traditionally the party that represents working Americans, the Democrats now face a crisis: the people they purport to represent are at risk of losing their jobs to a technology that is getting exponentially better.
According to data from Challenger, Gray & Christmas, nearly 4,000 jobs were lost in the United States as a result of businesses opting to use artificial intelligence software. A report described how AI was responsible for roughly 5% of all jobs lost in May 2023.
Investment bank Goldman Sachs also issued a report in March describing how AI could replace a quarter of all roles in the United States and Europe, replacing the equivalent of 300 million full-time positions.
AI will, therefore, become a defining workers’ rights issue during the remainder of this Biden administration, and likely worsen during the next administration – whether it’s a Republican or Democrat who wins in 2024.
Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.