“Nobody knows more about technology than me,” President of the United States Donald Trump told Fox News last year.
In the age of digital disruption, businesses have lots of difficult decisions to make. With emerging technologies from artificial intelligence to 5G, quantum computing to blockchain, tipped to revolutionise industries, where does Trump think businesses should be investing their time and money?
Trump on autonomous vehicles
The United States government has shown reluctance to regulate self-driving technology, with Secretary for Transportation Elaine Chao previously stating that it will not “pick the best technology or pick the winners”. Yet, the president doesn’t share his government’s blind faith.
Speaking on-board his Air Force One aircraft, Trump is said to have expressed doubts over the safety of autonomous vehicles.
“Can you imagine, you’re sitting in the back seat and all of a sudden this car is zig-zagging around the corner and you can’t stop the f***ing thing?” he allegedly said.
Trump’s verdict: Bad
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Trump on 5G
The United States is said to be lagging behind China in the 5G race. According to Deloitte, China has invested $24bn more in the development of 5G technology since 2015. Yet, the president is well aware of 5G’s potential, which he has described as “far more powerful, faster and smarter” than 4G mobile networks.
The US has moved to halt the dominance of China’s leading telecommunication company Huawei. The US has banned the use of Chinese components by its government agencies over fears that the technology would be used by the Chinese government to spy on foreign nations, and it has encouraged other Western countries to do the same.
However, should that fail, Trump’s America could skip 5G and turn its attention straight to 6G.
“I want 5G, and even 6G, technology in the United States as soon as possible,” Trump said on Twitter last month. “American companies must step up their efforts, or get left behind.”
Trump’s verdict:: Good
Donald Trump on drones
If you want to know about drones, there are few people with more knowledge than Donald Trump. As he stated to kick off 2019’s first cabinet meeting: “I know more about drones than anybody.”
Drones have previously been suggested as an alternative way of securing the US-Mexico border without installing an expensive, unsightly wall. While Trump recognises that drones could play a role, he doesn’t feel that drone technology alone can save the US.
“Having drones and various other forms of sensors, they’re all fine, but they’re not gonna stop the problems that this country has,” Trump previously claimed.
Despite that, Trump has found more effective ways of utilising drone technology. In his first two years in office, the Trump administration authorised 2,243 drone strikes in war zones. That is compared to 1,878 drone strikes authorised by Barack Obama during his eight years in office.
Trump’s verdict:: Good and bad
Donald Trump on 3D printing
Trump hasn’t said much on 3D printing, but he did seem to suggest that there should be some restrictions on the use of the technology.
The US was divided last year when blueprints for a 3D-printed gun that was both untraceable and undetectable were published online. After five years of litigation, the US government decided to settle with its creators, which would allow the plans to be published.
However, ahead of release, Trump told his Twitter followers that he was “looking into 3D plastic guns being sold to the public”. Offering his opinion, Trump admitted that the administration’s decision to allow the release of the plans “doesn’t seem to make much sense”.
Trump’s verdict:: Bad
Donald Trump on cybersecurity
Cybersecurity spending is expected to exceed $124bn this year according to Gartner. Despite that, 97% of organisations are still vulnerable to basic cyber exploits.
With data breaches having quadrupled in 2018, perhaps Trump’s warning that “no computer is safe” should be taken more seriously.
According to the president, rather than relying on cybersecurity vendors, we should take more caution when sharing sensitive information.
“If you have something really important, write it out and have it delivered by courier,” Trump reportedly told a group of journalists in 2017.
Trump’s verdict:: Bad
Donald Trump on automation
Creating jobs was a core part of Trump’s 2016 election pledges. Yet, despite automation reportedly threatening 25% of US jobs, the president has had little to say on the issue. Who knows why.
While Trump has not shared his views on automation outright, his Treasury Secretary has insisted that automation is not viewed as the serious threat that many studies have suggested it to be. Steven Mnuchin insisted that job loss caused by automation is “not even on our [the Trump administration’s] radar screen”.
Keen to keep up with China in the artificial intelligence market, Trump recently signed the American AI Initiative, which encourages the funding, development and use of AI technology in the US.
Trump’s verdict:: Unclear