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Trump's Tech Summit: What's Next for Silicon Valley?

Can the tech industry rise to the challenge of job creation, considering its recent dismal record on protecting personal information from hackers? (Wonderlane)
Can the tech industry rise to the challenge of job creation, considering its recent dismal record on protecting personal information from hackers? (Wonderlane)
December 16, 2016

LOS ANGELES - President-elect Donald Trump met this week with key leaders of technology companies from Silicon Valley to discuss job creation, and promised he'd help them continue to innovate. But did he convince them - or the public?

It was a "Who's Who" of major tech players - Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and more. But on the same day, California's Yahoo! admitted as many as 1 billion users' information was stolen in a massive hack. So, people may wonder if the tech industry can be trusted to tackle job creation, let alone protect personal information, said Michelle Quinn, a tech columnist for the East Bay Times and San Jose Mercury News.

"The average person's trust is just frittered away," she said, "and that's a hard thing to get back."

Critics called the Tech Summit nothing more than a photo op, with Trump's children in tow. But Quinn said that looking beyond the theater, these companies respond to a political leader - and if a president signals that he really wants jobs, she thinks they will listen.

Quinn warned there are legitimate concerns that the tech industry is growing faster than it can adjust to its flaws.

"You know, you get into a car, you expect the car to work. You expect the car not to leak your information all over the place," she said. "And I think that the tech industry's still struggling over the 'bugginess' of itself and also, its security holes."

Another topic at the Tech Summit was staying competitive with China. Quinn said that's going to mean a serious commitment to education - from the top down.

"In the Bay area, where I'm sitting right now, I am very aware that tech companies have been pouring money into retraining - and particularly high school and the community college level," she said. "But is that the same in other parts of the country? And I don't know."

The Tech Summit participants have agreed to meet quarterly.

Logan Pollard, Public News Service - CA