Donald Trump is known for making zany and inflammatory comments on everything from immigration to vaccines. So I was hoping his interview with Breitbart News's Milo Yiannopoulos would provide some color to my beat, the often-dry topic of technology policy.
Yet Trump carefully avoided saying anything controversial — or even interesting — about these topics:
- On NSA surveillance, he argued that the agency should be "given as much leeway as possible" without violating the Fourth Amendment. But he also said that 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 a sentiment almost everyone in the surveillance debate can agree with — though of course people disagree about how that "balance" should be struck.
- On cybersecurity, Trump said that "the American government has a responsibility to defend the nation from all attacks, kinetic, cyber or otherwise." He also took took a bold stand against Chinese hacking.
- Trump wants to "ensure that the intellectual property produced in America remains the property of those who produce it."
- Trump says he's a "strong supporter of expanding tech capabilities in the United States."
- Asked about whether artificial intelligence could eventually pose an existential threat to humanity, Trump said that "creators and users alike should always consider the ethical and moral consequences of all activities."
For a guy who's known for his controversial comments, the banality of these positions is striking. He doesn't say anything about the cybersecurity bill that just passed the Senate, the patent reform bill that's currently pending in Congress, or the controversy over the NSA spying on telephone records.
It seems Trump either doesn't want to alienate anyone with strong opinions on tech policy issues — or hasn't studied these issues enough to develop specific positions.