Donald Trump may be known for his no-hold-barred approach on Twitter, but technology is largely a foreign concept to the U.S. president-elect.
“Mr. Trump, who does not use a computer, rails against the campaign’s expenditure of tens of millions on digital ads, skeptical that spots he never sees could have any effect,” the New York Times reported in the final days before the election that made the 70-year-old real estate mogul the next leader of the country.
Asked whether he writes his own tweets, Trump told CNN’s Anderson Cooper, “During the day, I’m in the office, I just shout it out to one of the young ladies who are tremendous.”
As a candidate for the Republican nomination, Trump advocated “closing up that Internet in some way” and consulting with Bill Gates as a means of fighting terrorism.
But Trump’s lack of experience with tech is just part of what puts him at odds with the industry. During the campaign, many tech industry leaders lined up against Trump on policy issues, with some saying he would be “a disaster for innovation” in an open letter.
International trade and open borders, two linchpins of the Trump campaign, are also big issues for the technology industry. Trump provided a glimpse of his approach during a January speech. “We’re going to get Apple to build their damn computers and things in this country instead of in other countries,” he said at the time.
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The other challenge in assessing what a President Trump will mean for the tech world is guessing what, exactly, our next president actually believes or plans to do.
During the Republican primary, a Trump immigration policy page called for increasing the prevailing wage for workers on H-1B visas, commonly used by tech companies, seeking to level the playing field for American workers. The page said at the time, “Mark Zuckerberg’s personal Senator, Marco Rubio, has a bill to triple H-1Bs that would decimate women and minorities.” But Trump denied that statement during a debate, and all references to H-1Bs have since been removed from the page.
His policies on the critical issue of cybersecurity are light on details, beyond setting up task forces and committees, and developing “the offensive cyber capabilities we need to deter attacks by both state and non-state actors and, if necessary, to respond appropriately.”
Trump bashed Jeff Bezos repeatedly during the campaign, saying that the Amazon founder “bought the Washington Post to have political influence” to benefit Amazon on tax policy and other issues. “And believe me, if I become president, oh, do they have problems,” he said. “They’re going to have such problems.”
But will they really? Trump’s agenda is packed, so perhaps the best hope for the industry is that he won’t have time to get to this whole computer thing.