White House Huddles with Tech Executives on Future of Jobs

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks on stage during the annual Google I/O developers conference in Mountain View, California
Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks on stage during the annual Google I/O developers conference in Mountain View, California, May 8, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
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By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) 

The Trump administration, which has had strained relations with technology companies, met on Thursday with top tech executives to discuss ways to “ensure American dominance” of innovation and the future of high tech jobs

Chief executive officers who participated included Microsoft Corp’s Satya Nadella, Alphabet Inc’s Sundar Pichai, Qualcomm Inc’s Steven Mollenkopf and Oracle Corp’s Safra Catz, the White House said.

President Donald Trump briefly stopped by the meeting that focused on the latest and next-generation technology, including artificial intelligence (AI), a White House official confirmed.

 

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow speaks to the media outside the White House in Washington
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow speaks to the media outside the White House in Washington, U.S., December 3, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Young

 

“We would like their bold ideas to ensure American dominance” on AI, 5G wireless communication, quantum computing and advanced manufacturing, a senior White House official said.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and senior advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter and son-in-law, were at the session, which was closed to the press, unlike previous sessions with CEOs.

Trump has clashed with tech companies in the past over policy decisions that drew outrage in Silicon Valley. This marked the highest profile administration tech meeting in more than a year.

 

Safra A. Catz, Chief Executive Officer, Oracle, speaks at 2017 SelectUSA Investment Summit in Oxon Hill, Maryland
Safra A. Catz, Chief Executive Officer, Oracle, speaks at 2017 SelectUSA Investment Summit in Oxon Hill, Maryland, U.S., June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

 

Days into his administration, Uber Technologies Inc‘s then CEO quit Trump’s business advisory group over immigration policies.

In August 2017, Trump disbanded two high-profile business advisory councils after several chief executives quit in protest over the president’s remarks blaming violence at a white nationalist rally in Virginia on anti-racism counterprotesters as well as the white nationalists.

Before that, Trump met in June 2017 with the heads of 18 U.S. technology companies including Apple Inc , Amazon.com Inc and Microsoft, seeking their help to make the government’s computing systems more efficient.

 

CEO of Qualcomm Mollenkopf speaks at the Wall Street Journal Digital conference in Laguna Beach
Steven Mollenkopf, CEO of Qualcomm, speaks at the Wall Street Journal Digital conference in Laguna Beach, California, U.S. October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake

 

But the White House has held many meetings with tech firms at lower levels and Trump has met at least twice this year with Apple CEO Tim Cook.

 

The White House said it wants to ease regulatory barriers to advanced technologies like drones

Trump in October signed a presidential memorandum to develop a long-term comprehensive national spectrum strategy for mobile technology 5G.

In May, the Trump administration said it would not stand in the way of AI development, while acknowledging the burgeoning technology will lead to job losses.

AI and deep machine learning have raised concerns about whether machines will control man, privacy, cybersecurity, as well as the future of work, companies and experts say.

 

U.S. President Donald Trump participates in an American Technology Council roundtable at the White House in Washington, U.S.
U.S. President Donald Trump participates in an American Technology Council roundtable, accompanied by Tim Cook, CEO of Apple (L) and Satya Nadella CEO of Microsoft Corporation at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

 

Trump has had several run-ins with technology companies since he took office, including his accusations, without evidence, of anti-conservative bias by Google and Facebook Inc , and Twitter Inc for “trying to silence” people.

He has also criticized Amazon for paying too little to the U.S. Postal Service for shipping packages.

Next week, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing with Pichai to discuss Republican allegations of bias against conservatives, a charge Google has denied.

 

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Bill Berkrot)

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