AI Insight into Trump’s Emissions Proposal

Donald Trump recently announced his administration’s plans to revoke a waiver that allows California to enforce more strict emissions standards for passenger vehicles than mandated by federal law. Since 13 states, plus the District of Columbia, have voluntarily committed to the California standard ( and Colorado is planning to do so shortly ), nearly 1/3 of all passengers cars in America are subject to the higher standard the the EPA now plans to revoke.

Given that this waiver was granted by the previous administration, some, like CA Governor Jerry Brown, are interpreting the administration’s plan as an attack on California and Barack Obama’s legacy. Brown has called the plan “reckless” and vowed that “California will fight this stupidity in every conceivable way possible,” but the Trump administration says the repeal is not a political move, but rather a commitment to a “50-state fuel economy and tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions standard.” More important than the debate over Obama’s legacy is the question of what should be the highest priority in making sweeping policy decisions like this, the environmental impact or the economic one, and of course, who should be the final arbiter, the federal government, or the states?

For insight into this contentious topic, researchers at Unanimous assembled a Swarm AI® system that connected a group of American voters with AI algorithms. This Swarm AI system harnessed real-time input from a balanced population that includes equal thirds of Independent, Republican, and Democratic voters. Researchers asked the Swarm AI system a series of questions about the proposed revocation that allowed the group to combine its wisdom, experience and intuition into an AI amplified output.

First, Unanimous researchers asked the underlying question behind the entire debate. Which should be given priority when the EPA is proposing new fuel standards, the impact to the carmakers’ bottom line or to the environment? As you can see in the replay below, the Swarm AI system converged on “Environmental Impact (by a lot)” as the preferred higher priority.

As you can see, there is decisive support for “Environmental Impact ( by a lot )” at the outset of the question, and that support only consolidates over time as the Swarm AI system converges on its optimized answer. There can be little doubt as to the preferred priority for this group of voters.

The waiver granted by the Obama administration to California ( and subsequently implemented by a number of other states ) raises an issue as old as America itself:  is this a state’s rights issue, or a federal one? While it might be too much to ask of this particular group to solve that problem once and for all, with respect to emissions standards, the question is particularly valid. After all, California has had the right to set its own standards for emissions long before the Obama waiver. In fact, CA’s autonomy dates back to 1970, when Nixon signed the Clean Air Act at a time when smog was rampant in Los Angeles. So, while Trump is pushing for that 50-state standard, the Swarm AI system suggests that this is a question better addressed by state and local governments.

Finally, researchers at Unanimous asked the Swarm AI system to weigh in on one seemingly unknowable aspect of this debate – what were the President’s intentions in issuing this repeal? In a time of extreme partisanship, would this group of voters agree with those like Governor Brown, who interpret the announcement as a political attack on a famously liberal state, or would it be seen for what Trump claims it is, a sincere desire to have a universal standard across all 50 states?

Even though the Swarm AI suggested above that states, rather than the federal government, should make these decisions, the replay below shows that this group of voters did not attribute the nefarious intentions to Trump’s announcement that Governor Brown and others have suggested. The Swarm AI system’s response here suggests an optimism that the group can disagree with a proposal without demonizing the party that suggested it.

Researchers at Unanimous asked the Swarm AI system to answer a full series of questions covering all aspects of this important topic. That research is summarized in the chart below.


About Unanimous AI
Unanimous AI is a Silicon Valley company that has pioneered Swarm AI® technology, a new form of AI that combines real-time human insights and AI algorithms modeled after natural swarms. Unanimous has generated an impressive track record of predictions, forecasts and insights. The company’s technology has outperformed traditional AI systems and human experts in many high-profile challenges.

Unanimous works with corporate clients and leading organizations through its Swarm Insight® business intelligence service. Swarm Insight helps clients amplify the intelligence of consumer groups as well as amplify the intelligence of business teams to help make better decisions.

In 2018, Swarm AI was recognized as SXSW’s “Artificial Intelligence Innovation of the Year”  and was described in a popular TED TALK here.  For more about Unanimous A.I., visit

Unanimous will be fielding swarms throughout 2018 to track the sentiment of the American public and to identify the trends and behaviors that are shaping our future.  If you would like to stay informed of our research, sign up below.

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