Trump Asks Tech Companies: How Can Government Help You?

Alex Brandon/AP

As "tech week" continues, companies selling drones and other emerging technology briefed the White House on their challenges.

President Donald Trump saw drone demonstrations Thursday as part of the White House’s planned Tech Week, Recode reported.

Earlier this week, Trump invited the chief executives of the nation’s most powerful technology companies including Apple, Amazon and IBM. On Thursday, he spoke with representatives from businesses selling “emerging technology,” including unmanned aerial vehicles and wireless connections.

Addressing executives including General Electric’s outgoing CEO Jeff Immelt, AT&T head Randall Stephenson, and Michael Chasen, who leads drone company PrecisionHawk, Trump pledged to give their businesses “the competitive advantage that you need” against tech development elsewhere including in China.

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“We're on the verge of new technological revolutions that could improve, virtually, every aspect of our lives, create vast new wealth for American workers and families, and open up bold, new frontiers in science, medicine and communication,” he said, according to a White House transcript.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Vice President Mike Pence also attended the meeting.

The emerging technology summit followed Trump’s Wednesday visit to Iowa, during which he discussed bringing internet connections to rural areas and investigating the use of high-tech farming tools to advance domestic agriculture, CBS News reported.

Representatives from venture firms including Lightspeed Ventures and 500 Startups were also in the White House’s East Room on Thursday, Recode reported.

During that meeting, PrecisionHawk’s Chasen asked Trump to cut restrictions on technology development, he told Recode. Sprint’s chief executive Marcelo Claure also told Recode he and other attendees asked the government for help setting up systems like small cells for wireless connections across the country.

“It takes one year to get a permit, but it takes one hour to install it,” Claure told Recode. “We heard him say loud and clear we have to fix this.”

Trump thanked the Office of Science and Technology Policy, which is currently understaffed compared to its size under Barack Obama, for organizing the meeting. Trump still hasn’t named a director of that office, prompting lawmakers to warn the president remains susceptible to pseudoscience without a qualified science and technology adviser.

Emerging technology is “a very, very competitive field,” Trump said in remarks. “You see what's going on in China and so many other countries. And we want to remain number one. We want to go to number one in certain areas where we're not number one.”