By DOUGLAS BURNS
One of the more idea-rich presidential candidates of the modern era plans to marry science fiction with prairie populism in an innovative campaign strategy that will allow him to stretch the boundaries of time and place to go where no West Wing aspirant has gone before.
Democrat Andrew Yang, best known for advocating a universal basic income ($1,000 a month for all adults, no questions asked), plans to make appearances as a lifelike hologram, with a 3D dynamic image of a himself beamed remotely to, say, the flatbed of a truck for some campaign events and gatherings, a bold use of new technology to drive home his increasingly popular narrative about the collapse of the old American economy for millions of vulnerable workers.
In a phone interview today with The Carroll (Iowa) Times Herald, Yang said his campaign is working with a hologram company and could debut the technology — possibly in Iowa — as early as June.
“We are exploring rolling a truck out that would enable someone to see a hologram of me that is three-dimensional give my stump speech,” Yang said as he traveled between campaign events in New Hampshire. “And, also, if I were in a studio, which we could set up very easily, I could beam in and take questions live.”
The hologram appearances would allow Yang to see questioners and interact with people in real time, he said.
“They would see my every gesture and movement,” he said.
The 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, a New York businessman with ties to Silicon Valley, has campaigned in Iowa with what he says are the urgent hard truths from what he’s learned behind the curtain of disruptive technology.
The business world is moving from paper-less to driver-less to, more and more, people-less systems. Jobs once considered secure, even prestigious, are at the mercy of the march of machines, the rise of robots, says this self-described entrepreneur.
In using some of that very technology, Yang says he likely won’t be the only human being (living or historical) to appear at his campaign events as a hologram. Yang, 44, said other politicians or celebrities may beam to the events for a conversation or rally or town hall with him.
“We can actually have some pop-culture and other figures appear,” Yang said. “If you’re going to go all the trouble of having a hologram set up you might as well have some other people appear and make it more fun and entertaining for people than just coming to see a hologram of me speaking. We would make it fun for people.”
Yang said he is in conversations with personalities from entertainment and other pursuits for the hologram events.
“I thought it would be a fun way to be in multiple places at once, and also very much tied into the message of the campaign around the fact that it is 2019 and soon it will be 2020 and things are changing and we can’t just keep doing the same things over and over again and expect it to achieve the results we need,” Yang said.
Yang said he will continue to aggressively schedule in-person stops (such as a planned swing through Iowa in late April), but he thinks the hologram will add exposure and excitement to his campaign.
“Technology is really cool,” Yang said. “When you see the hologram the whole thing is very fun and invigorating. Certainly when I saw the technology in action I enjoyed it a great deal so for folks in Iowa and other places, I think it will just be a fun way to experience it. It might be even more fun than seeing me in person.”