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Trump tells tech CEOs that Washington needs to ‘catch up with the revolution’

At a meeting with top tech leaders Trump promised a transformation of outdated federal technology, which astonishingly still includes floppy disks

Donald Trump called for sweeping transformation of the federal governments technology during the first meeting of the American Technology Council, established by executive order last month.

Eighteen of Americas leading technology executives including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google parent Alphabet convened at the White House Monday for the summit.

Government needs to catch up with the technology revolution, said Trump. America should be the global leader in government technology just as we are in every other aspect, and we are going to start our big edge again in technology such an important industry.

The tech leaders spent four hours meeting officials including vice-president Mike Pence, treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and commerce secretary Wilbur Ross before meeting with the president. Ivanka Trump, the presidents daughter, was also present.

They discussed modernizing the governments technological infrastructure, cutting fraud and government costs and improving services for taxpayers. The White House believes these measures could save up to $1tn over 10 years.

Together we will unleash the creativity of the private sector to provide citizen services in a way that has never happened before, said White House senior adviser and Trumps son-in-law Jared Kushner, before the sessions started.

Kushner highlighted some astonishing examples of outdated federal IT infrastructure, including the fact that the defense department still uses 8-inch floppy disks on some of its legacy systems. He also mentioned that civilian agencies maintain more than 1.6m email addresses per month using on-premise servers at an average cost of $20-per-user per month. Switching to cloud-based email services could reduce these costs down to $3-per-user per month, he said.

Our goal here is simple: we are here to improve the day to day lives of the average citizen. Thats a core promise and we are keeping it, said Kushner.

We will foster a new set of start ups focused on gov-tech and be a global leader in the field making government more transparent and responsive to citizens needs.

Ivanka Trump sits beside Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM, at the roundtable in the state dining room of the White House. Photograph: Alex Brandon/AP

The tech CEOs were also pushing their own agendas, according to Recode. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, for example, called on the government to take advantage of the type of commercial technology that Amazon sells. Palantir CEO Alex Karp said that big data analysis, the kind Palantir offers, could help stop fraudulent federal spending. Apples Tim Cook wanted coding to be made a requirement in schools.

This was the first meeting of the American Technology Council since the president announced its creation in an executive order signed on 11 May.

Within the order, which builds on plans laid out by the Obama administration, Trump announced the creation of the council, whose mission is to coordinate the vision strategy and direction for the federal governments use of information technology and the delivery of services through information technology.

The council was given 90 days to come up with a plan to transition antiquated, fragmented systems across government to either one or more consolidated network architectures or shared IT services, including email, cloud and cybersecurity services.

Other members of the council include: Ajay Banga, the CEO of Mastercard; Safra Catz, co-CEO of Oracle; Alex Karp, CEO of Palantir; Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel; Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM; and Peter Thiel.

The council is led by Chris Liddell, a top aide to Trump and the former chief financial officer of Microsoft.

Notably absent from the meeting was Facebook neither Mark Zuckerberg nor Sheryl Sandberg were able to attend due to scheduling conflicts. It was the only one out of the top-five most valuable companies in the US to not have a representative at the meeting.

The meeting comes at a time when a number of people in the tech world have chosen to distance themselves from Trump after he withdrew from the Paris climate accord. Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Tesla and Space X, announced on Twitter: Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.

Elon Musk (@elonmusk)

Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.

June 1, 2017

Before that Ubers embattled CEO Travis Kalanick left Trumps business advisory council after the company faced criticism for working closely with the Trump administration and for its response to the White Houses travel ban affecting people from seven Muslim majority countries.

In January, the social media meme #DeleteUber exploded online after the ride-sharing company was accused of exploiting the travel ban for commercial gain. In protest at the travel ban the New York Taxi Workers Alliance called on its members to avoid JFK airport. However, Uber flouted the strike although removed surge pricing from journeys to and from the airport. It was far from Ubers most egregious undertakings, but enough to give arch rival Lyft a 7% boost in users.

Uber NYC (@Uber_NYC)

Surge pricing has been turned off at #JFK Airport. This may result in longer wait times. Please be patient.

January 29, 2017

Uber apologized for the misunderstanding and Kalanick sent a memo to all of Ubers staff.

There are many ways we will continue to advocate for just change on immigration, but staying on the council was going to get in the way of that, he said.

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Theresa May docudrama heading to BBC Two – BBC News

Image caption Theresa May is played by Jacqueline King

A docudrama depicting Theresa May’s rise to power last year is to air on BBC Two on Sunday as the fallout continues from the general election.

Theresa vs Boris: How May Became PM was commissioned before Mrs May called the snap election.

It focuses on the 20 days between the Brexit vote and Mrs May becoming Conservative leader and prime minister.

Doctor Who actress Jacqueline King stars as Mrs May, while Will Barton plays Boris Johnson.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Johnson (Will Barton) was scuppered in his bid to become prime minister

Inbetweeners actor John Seaward appears as Michael Gove, who was another leadership challenger.

It will also feature interviews with some of those who were involved in the battle to become party leader, including former ministers Nicky Morgan and Iain Duncan Smith.

The BBC said the programme was based on “exhaustive research and first-person testimonies” and would “lay bare the politicking and positioning, betrayals and blunders” of the time.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Gove (John Seaward) has now re-entered the Cabinet as environment secretary

It will portray the events following last year’s EU referendum and David Cameron’s subsequent resignation as prime minister.

It will recount how Mr Gove – who had backed Johnson’s leadership bid – launched his own campaign to become prime minister, leading Mr Johnson to back out.

Mrs May ended up winning the leadership race but a year later finds herself in a vulnerable position following an election that saw her party win the most seats but not a majority in the House of Commons.

Theresa vs Boris: How May Became PM airs on Sunday at 21:00 BST on BBC Two.

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