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Andrew Yang, presidential candidate, talks Space Force, drones, automation

The 2020 Democratic hopeful tells CNET how tech can both help and hurt society.

Andrew Yang
Jesse Orrall/CNET

Presidential candidate Andrew Yang likes to talk tech.

The 2020 Democratic candidate and entrepreneur is tackling topics like smartphones, drones and automation. Yang spoke with CNET last week about the ways he's seen tech both help and hurt American society. He also spoke about some of his prospective fixes. 

Yang discussed The Freedom Dividend, his flagship policy. On his site, he says the policy is necessary, in part, because automation is killing so many jobs. The dividend, a form of universal basic income, would give every American adult $1,000 a month to ensure people can pay their bills and encourage them to start new businesses.  

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The candidate told CNET that automation is the reason Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election. On his campaign website, Yang says robots, software and artificial intelligence will eliminate "millions more" jobs in the next five to 10 years. 

Yang also touched on deplatforming, the practice of removing people from social media, often for spreading hate speech, for example. The government should play more of a role in curbing hate and violence on social media, he said. 

"If you're a platform that we know ends up being one of the major congregation points for various ideologies, then you can't just let that stuff continue to fester and grow," Yang said. "I think there are times when either the company or the government has to step in."

The candidate told CNET that smartphones should be monitored and regulated, given that they contribute to anxiety and depression. Yang also talked about Space Force, saying the US trying to advance its capabilities in space is "not intrinsically a bad thing." But, he added, he wouldn't want to do something unnecessarily aggressive just to one-up rivals.

"Everyone's space infrastructure is so fragile," he said. "You're living in this constant world of necessary cooperation because if anything goes bad, then all of our space stuff is going to go away."

Yang wants the US government to share the number of civilians it kills in wartime drone strikes with the American public because he's concerned that it's "impersonal" to send a device to kill people.

"I get the sense that we might have gone a little bit too far in terms of our acceptance of what we can do in these environments," he said.

Yang also shared his ideas on tackling climate change.