Pete Buttigieg, the 2020 presidential candidate and mayor of South Bend, Ind., singled out Facebook, Google and Amazon for their “monopoly power” and said America is falling behind China in the race to harness artificial intelligence.
During an interview with Axios, the 37-year-old Democrat, who formed an exploratory committee in January and has campaigned and tried to amass 65,000 unique donors, also told the outlet the U.S. needs to think differently about the threats automation pose to workers.
Buttigieg, who is reportedly friends with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and spent time showing him around South Bend in 2017, told Axios that U.S. regulators have largely failed to rein in Big Tech.
There’s no question that the U.S. has let down its guard when it comes to monopoly power. Too often, the concentration of wealth has become a concentration of power,” Buttigieg said on the Axios Pro Rata podcast. “When competition is being squelched, when the dominance of one part of the marketplace is being turned into another. It requires greater attention to the controls on monopoly power to keep our economy competitive and democratic.”
The millennial mayor, who served for seven months in Afghanistan in 2014 as a lieutenant in the Navy Reserves and was reelected to a second term the following year after he came out as gay, is voicing concerns amid calls from Democratic and Republican lawmakers to crack down on Big Tech’s power. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is already investigating Facebook’s business practices and recently staffed up a major task force to examine anti-competitive behavior in the technology sector.
When asked specifically if firms like Facebook, Amazon and Google are monopolies, the Midwestern mayor said he doesn’t want to “prejudice” any potential future regulatory efforts.
“There’s no question that the concentration should set off alarms from a market perspective. There’s a whole set of other issues, too, on ownership of data,” Buttigieg explained, adding that the European Union has taken the issue of data privacy and security much more seriously than the U.S.
Regarding the AI race between China and the United States, Buttigieg said America will seriously lag behind in 10 to 15 years if Washington doesn’t change its policies and ramp up funding.
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