indica News Bureau –
Amid strained ties between the Silicon Valley and Trump administration, top tech honchos, including Google’s Sunder Pichai and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, were invited by the White House for a technology summit on December 6.
President Donald Trump made a brief appearance at the summit, which was themed “Industries of the Future” and organized by daughter Ivanka Trump.
A senior administration official described the summit as a “listening session” to field policy ideas on quantum computing, advanced manufacturing and artificial intelligence.
Even though White House has held many meetings with tech firms at lower levels and Trump has met Apple CEO Tim Cook twice this year, the summit marked the highest profile administration tech meeting in more than a year.
While IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz and Qualcomm’s Steve Mollenkopf were among those who attended the event, Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg were absent from the discussion.
A senior administration official told the that “those companies weren’t invited to the event”.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and former secretary of state Henry Kissinger also attended the summit.
“We had a productive and engaging discussion at the White House about America’s leadership in emerging technologies,” The Wall Street Journal quoted Pichai as saying.
Pichai is scheduled to testify before US Congress on December 11 about his company’s alleged bias towards the conservatives, privacy and anti-trust market behavior.
The high-profile meeting also comes amidst the U.S.-China trade war, which has threatened to make products like iPhones dearer.
Owing to national security concerns, the US government aims to tighten restrictions on exports of new technologies.
The list of affected products could include quantum computing, speech recognition, cloud Artificial Intelligence and other technologies that provide major avenues toward business in China.
Trump has had clashes with tech companies over trade and immigration policies. Amazon has been consistently targeted by the President who has threatened investigations over the tech giant’s taxes and use of the postal service.
Earlier, Trump proclaimed that algorithms developed by the likes of Google and Facebook fail to offer consumers politically-balanced news about American politics and his presidency itself.
Concerns were also voiced at the summit about promoting ethical uses of AI.
In May, the Trump administration said it would not stand in the way of AI development, even as it acknowledged that the growing technology will lead to job losses.
AI, a growth area for US businesses, is expected to put millions of truck drivers, retail cashiers and other American workers out of a job, according to a Wall Steet Journal report.
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis had warned Trump in September that the US is not keeping pace with the ambitious plans of China in artificial intelligence.
It is estimated that the Chinese government already has invested $300 billion in AI, chips and electric cars.