Today Donald Trump will become president of the United States of America. You heard it here first. I’m publishing this article at midday UK time; by midday Washington time the deal will be sealed. More switched-on political heads than mine will comment on his policies overall, but here’s a wish list of things he might do in terms of technology – both in his understanding of it and his policies towards it:
- Put the phone away. As president elect you have in recent weeks Tweeted your displeasure at the cast of Hamilton speaking to Mike Pence (whose own response, to Buzzfeed and others, suggested he supported the cast’s freedom whilst disagreeing with their views), accused Meryl Street of being overrated and berated the cast and writers of comedy show Saturday Night Live. No doubt powerful people in the past have had their own irritations but they have kept them to themselves. You now need to look presidential.
- Be less stringent in terms of condemning outsourcing and offshoring. These things are a major part of public sector computing and they’re not going anywhere. Making America Great is not the same as Making America Uncompetitive.
- Learn about robotics and automation. Whether software or hardware robots, that’s where the challenge is coming from in terms of jobs, in the IT, manufacturing or other sectors. It is now in your gift to invest in education programmes and prepare your people for the next wave of advances. Rather than using the tax system to coax people away from Mexico or wherever, train the remaining people in something that’s going to grow and can’t be automated. It’s not going to be possible in every case but it might make the basis of a long-term strategy.
- Find out more about security. Telling people we’ll never know who hacked into the Democrats’ servers is one thing when you’re a candidate or president elect; it’s another when you’re responsible for national security. Take advice, find stuff out before speaking. It’s unreasonable to expect you to become an expert in everything yourself but you need people around you who have that expertise.
- Do something about fake news. We know it’s been useful to you, you’re a product of your time as is everyone else. But if you could usher in a time in which people take whatever is put in front of them online with a healthy dose of scepticism, you might just play a part in taking your country out of the dark age into which your most severe critics believe you’re about to plunge it.