Tech Leaders Talk Big Changes at the Start of Tech Week

June 22, 2017 - 3 minutes read

President Trump’s “tech week” kicked off Monday with an unusual scene: leaders of the tech community, usually ambivalent or downright outspoken on the president, saying nice things about his tech policies. This buttering-up unfolded in front of cameras, but the real work was accomplished in private sessions where tech leaders such as Apple CEO Tim Cook, Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella pitched ideas on how to apply new technologies to the American government. The very first meeting of the American Technology Council put some of the nation’s top innovators and leading businessmen in the same room with the president and offered them an opportunity to exert some influence over our problematic commander-in-chief. They were pushing for changes that will hopefully help all of America (including all of us hard-working iPhone app developers).

The principle focus of the American Technology Council was modernizing the government’s use of technology. Execs from IBM, Intel, and Salesforce talked up the benefits of cloud computing, noting that the government squanders resources on 6,000 data centers instead of turning to the more efficient private sector. As savvy iPhone app developers can tell, It’s exactly the kind of proposal that appeals to the businessman president. Palantir, co-founded by Peter Thiel, Trump’s most notable tech ally, joined representatives from Amazon and Oracle in pitching ideas for how to make it easier for the government to procure the latest and greatest tech tools. Other sessions on Monday covered cybersecurity issues, “data liberation” for entrepreneur use, H-1B visa reform, and how to utilize (and regulate) drones, AI, and machine learning.

Chicago iPhone app developers may cynically note that many of these meetings are clearly a way for the biggest tech companies to try to secure government contracts, with only minor benefit for smaller firms. But “tech week” could open up possibilities for smaller tech companies too, especially if tech-friendly regulations are pushed through. There were glimmers of virtue in these meetings too. Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke up for a more progressive healthcare bill and for the Dreamers whose fate is dangling by a thread at this point. We can only hope Trump was listening.

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