Tech Tent: Tech gets ready for Trump


It's safe to say that in Silicon Valley tech companies big and small you'd struggle to find many people who owned up to voting for Donald Trump last November. But an industry which tends to have an optimistic view of the world is already adapting to a political landscape very different from the one it expected.

Image caption Birch: "Accept the cards you are dealt"

On this week's Tech Tent, we report from San Francisco on the mood amongst the tech community as the Trump presidency looms. When I visited the offices of Monkey Inferno, which houses three firms owned by the entrepreneur Michael Birch, I found people just getting on with the job - even on a Saturday.

Sure, they had been shocked by the election result. One woman said the mood had been very dark the morning after, and even compared it to 9/11. A man explained that they had all expected from their Twitter feeds that a Hillary Clinton victory was guaranteed, then added: "We're in a kind of bubble in the tech industry.You would have said, like, Hillary is for sure going to win. And then, the next day Trump wins and you kind of wonder what's the rest of America like?"

Michael Birch, who arrived here from Britain 15 years ago and made his fortune from the Bebo social network, admitted that the tech industry was very worried about what Donald Trump had said on the campaign trail about immigration. After all, this most globalised of industries relies on recruiting talent from around the world. "But," he says, "it's hard to take anything he says at face value, so I see him doing an about-face on that." He is quite optimistic that the new President will listen to Silicon Valley.

Image caption Swisher: Tech people need to be outspoken

Birch, who's now an American citizen, says the tech sector is resilient to change, and has the ability to innovate around Trump: "In some ways it's bizarrely shaking things up and making people innovate. You've got to accept the cards you're dealt and make the most of them."

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iPhone - a moment in history

Steve Jobs unveils the iPhone
Image caption Not the greatest shot - but a landmark moment

Ten years ago I was running from San Francisco’s Moscone Centre to a nearby hotel to edit a piece for the Ten O’Clock News when my phone rang.

Those were the days, by the way, when phones were for making calls but all that was about to change.

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CES 2017: Danny’s amazing earbud adventure

Danny Manu Image copyright Danny Manu

It sounds like a game-changing innovation: earbuds that auto-translate other languages. But what was supposed to be their big coming out week isn't going quite as planned.

If you're a tech company wanting to grab the world's attention this week, then Las Vegas could be the worst place to be.

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Safety test proposal for drone users

a drone with a plane in the background Image copyright Getty Images

Anyone who buys a drone in future in the UK may have to register it and take a safety test.

That could be the outcome of a government consultation on strict new drone safety rules.

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Computing GCSE 'leaves girls and poorer students behind'

Three pupils watch a teacher while sitting at computer screens Image copyright Getty Images

A revolution is under way in the teaching of computer science in schools in England - but it risks leaving girls and pupils from poorer backgrounds and ethnic minorities behind. That's the conclusion of academics who've studied data about the move from ICT as a national curriculum subject to computer science.

Four years ago, amid general disquiet that ICT was teaching children little more than how Microsoft Office worked, the government took the subject off the national curriculum. The idea was that instead schools should move to offering more rigorous courses in computer science - children would learn to code rather than how to do PowerPoint.

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Tech Tent: Can Facebook foil the fakers?


On this week's Tech Tent, we bring you 100% genuine news about a plan to help readers of online news decide what's fake and what's not. And we look into the 5G future and ask whether we need ever faster speeds on our mobile phone networks - especially for a time when driverless cars will be commonplace.

Image copyright Paul Paladin
Image caption Facebook has reached out to fact-checking organisations to help tackle fake news

Facebook tackles the fakes

In the last month our programme has covered the mounting concerns about the spread of fake news, documenting the mounting pressure on Facebook to act. Now the social network has come out with a series of measures designed to help its users distinguish between truth and lies.

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Tech Tent: Is technology good for us?

Rory Cellan-Jones

On Tech Tent this week we ask whether the tech industry is out of touch with the real world.

In the rush to disrupt every industry and to reinvent the way we live, do the tech utopians forget the negative impact some of their miraculous products can have on the lives and jobs of many people?

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Amazon Go store has done away with staff on the tills

Shop smart

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Seamless shopping and the future of work

Amazon Go user outside shop Image copyright Amazon

A man walks into a shop, grabs a sandwich off a shelf then walks straight out.

A woman browses the selection of ready meals, puts one in her handbag and leaves. Scenes from a viral video - not about shoplifting but about Amazon's vision of the future of retailing.

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Blippar wants your face in its app

Media captionWATCH: App recognises Rory

Ever seen someone across a crowded room and struggled to remember who they are? Well now there's an app which would allow you to fit the face to a name.

Blippar, the augmented reality business, is adding facial recognition to its app. Some will find that cool, others will see it as a creepy invasion of privacy.

At the moment the Blippar app gives you information about all kinds of objects when you point your smartphone's camera at them - it will identify famous paintings for example, or provide advertising content when you point it at a product.

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Tech Tent: Fun and Games in Finland


On this week's Tech Tent we travel to Slush, one of the most relaxed and vibrant technology events you will find anywhere in the world. It is held in almost total darkness in a huge exhibition hall in Finland's capital Helsinki and feels more like a music festival than a conference.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The Slush conference brought together veteran entrepreneurs and startup founders

Nevertheless, with hundreds of startups mingling with established businesses, it is a great place to take the temperature of Europe's tech scene. From the founders of Spotify and Supercell, to the president of tiny but digitally pioneering Estonia, to some big names from Silicon Valley, there were all kinds of perspectives on the state of the tech business in uncertain times.

Zennstrom backs

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