Donald Trump’s interview about technology on breitbart.com is uncharacteristically equivocal; he sounds like any other politician. Apparently, his batshit candor is limited to tweets, debates, and speeches. Memo to Trump-haters and opponents: technology is his weak spot.
Breitbart Tech’s Milo Yiannopoulos interviewed Trump about tech issues from the NSA to artificial intelligence. Full of equivocation and hedges, Trump’s responses are very different from his normal bombast. Ignorance about technology turns Trump into a wimp.
In the excerpts from Trump’s responses below, I’ve highlighted passive voice, hedges, and equivocation in bold italic (passive voice also gets an underline). My comments follow in italic.
[T]he NSA has been given great latitude in how it conducts itself, especially after the events of 9/11. To the extent that the agency can accomplish its mission without violating the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, it should be given as much leeway as possible. However, American citizens are guaranteed certain protections. There must be a balance between those Constitutional protections and the role of the government in protecting its citizens. Congress should continue to be the arbiter of that balance. [This is meaningless blather. The question is not whether there should be balance, but where the balance ends up. The passive — “has been given” “should be given,” and “are guaranteed” — shows how Trump is unaware of or unwilling to say whose job it is to safeguard citizens.]
Understanding the technical aspects of how the Internet works is important to understanding how difficult it is to defend access to American government and private enterprises. . . . [W]e continue to have persistent, intentional and deliberate attacks on American cyberspace by agents from, or acting on behalf of, China. These actions border on being acts of war. America should counter attack and make public every action taken by China to steal or disrupt our operations, whether they be private or governmental. [The initial statement is a meaningless hedge that any mealy-mouthed politician would be proud of. The reckless cyber-rattling that follows is more Trumplike.]
The Internet is a tool. Sometimes it is a scalpel. Sometimes it is a chainsaw. . . . Access to the Internet is critical if [it] is to be used to reach young people or minorities. Young people, generally, can be reached through social media. [Chainsaws and scalpels? I can draw only one conclusion from this rambling, passive soliliquy. Donald Trump doesn’t understand how the Internet works.]
I am a big believer in technology and will be a strong supporter of expanding tech capabilities in the United States. As President, my goal would be to ensure that the intellectual property produced in America remains the property of those who produce it. Letting other countries steal our property will not happen on my watch. [Pom-poms. Lacks any specifics.]
I have always been concerned about the social breakdown of our culture caused by technology. I think the increased dependence and addiction to electronic devices is unhealthy. Of course, these trends tend to swing like a pendulum, so I am confident we will find a balance along the way. As for artificial intelligence, again it can either be a scalpel or a chainsaw. Creators and users alike should always consider the ethical and moral consequences of all activities. [When you don’t understand the Internet, AI is a complete mystery. And “consider the ethical and moral consequences?” That’s a typical non-statement that any politician would make in an area of ignorance.]
What does this interview mean? I draw these conclusions (you can judge whether I’m using a scalpel or a chainsaw):
- Donald Trump is dangerously ignorant about technology.
- In areas where he’s ignorant, he makes shit up and equivocates just like any other politician.
- As with all politicians, there’s a woeful unwillingness to acknowledge ignorance that prevents them from acquiring the knowledge to make smarter decisions.
I’d like to hear “I don’t know” more often on the campaign trail. How about you?