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LAS VEGAS — Women in tech have long pushed for more female speakers to take the coveted keynote slots at CES, one of the world’s largest technology conferences. But they’re not happy about Ivanka Trump’s selection.
Trump’s appearance to discuss the future of work, slated for later today, is already being panned by critics who say there are women with much more technical experience who are better qualified.
“There are a lot of women who are doing a lot of work to help women in tech and build products that help women and help children and families. Ivanka Trump is not one of them,” Sara Mauskopf, the CEO of the child-care start-up Winnie, said in an interview.
CES drew widespread criticism in both 2017 and 2018 for failing to bring in female keynotes. This year, more than a hundred people have tweeted #boycottCES since the conference organizers announced Trump would speak at the show late last month.
“This is a terrible choice on so many levels but also – what an insult to the YEARS AND YEARS of protesting how few women were invited to keynote & being told it was a pipeline problem while similarly-situated men were elevated,” tech commentator Rachel Sklar tweeted. “There are so many great, qualified women. Shame.”
Liz Gumbinner, who publishes Cool Mom Tech, said on Twitter that the lineup reinforced her decision not to go.
The backlash highlights the continued polarization between the Trump administration and Silicon Valley three years into the president’s term. Policymakers’ appearances at CES have become increasingly common in recent years — but the inclusion of a Trump in the lineup is particularly awkward given the sharp ideological divisions between many in the industry and her father. Many tech leaders strongly opposed Trump’s candidacy and continue to differ from the White House’s policies on issues including immigration and climate change.
The drama is fueling a tense environment here as Trump’s daughter and senior adviser prepares to address strategies to reskill workers, develop apprenticeships and invest in science and technology education programs, according to a news release.
Trump has focused on workforce development in her advisory role, and she serves as the co-chair of the National Council for the American Worker with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
Consumer Technology Association, the industry trade group that organizes CES, on Monday defended the decision to include Trump as a keynote speaker. CTA spokeswoman Jennifer Drogus said in a statement that policy discussions are a critical part of the conference, and the conference will host more than 150 policymakers.
“CTA invites officials from every White House — both Republicans and Democrats — to participate in and speak at CES,” she said in a statement. “The future of work is a critical policy topic for the technology sector.”
CTA President Gary Shapiro, who will appear alongside Trump during the keynote, told the BBC on Sunday that he has no regrets and said Trump has done “great work.”
Trump is just one of many administration officials in Las Vegas this week for the conference. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette and U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios are also expected to attend. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joseph Simons are scheduled to speak, and several other FCC and FTC commissioners are attending.
While President Trump has continued to attack the tech sector — and in some instances specific executives on Twitter — Ivanka Trump has enjoyed a cozier relationship. She has appeared at events with chief executives including Apple’s Tim Cook and Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai. Another tech trade group, the Internet Association, gave her an “Internet Freedom Award” last year.
A spokeswoman for Ivanka Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“CES has consistently proven to be one of the most influential technology events in the world and I am excited to join this year for a substantive discussion on how the government is working with private sector leaders to ensure American students and workers are equipped to thrive in the modern, digital economy,” Ivanka Trump said in a news release last month announcing her speech.
Ivanka Trump will speak at 2 p.m. Pacific today in the Venetian’s Palazzo Ballroom.
BITS, NIBBLES AND BYTES
BITS: Facebook is banning deepfakes in a significant step to curb the spread of sophisticated computer-generated videos ahead of the 2020 elections, my colleagues Tony Romm, Drew Harwell and Isaac Stanley-Becker reports. But the company’s policies do not target all doctored videos, and it does not appear to apply to hoaxes like the deceptively edited video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that rapidly spread on the social network last year.
“While these videos are still rare on the internet, they present a significant challenge for our industry and society as their use increases,” Monika Bickert, the company’s vice president for global policy management, wrote in a blog post. Bickert is expected to testify in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee at a hearing on online deception and manipulation tomorrow.
Under the new policy, Facebook intends to ban videos that are “edited or synthesized” by technologies like artificial intelligence in a way that average users would not easily identify, including attempts to make the subject of a video do things that never actually happened. But the company will allow videos manipulated for satire.
The company also signaled that less sophisticated forms of video editing would continue to be permitted on the service, though their spread could be limited if deemed false by the company’s fact-checking partners. The policy does not seem to limit mislabeling footage, splicing dialogue or taking quotes out of context, as in a video last week in which a long response Joe Biden delivered to an audience in New Hampshire was heavily edited to make him sound racist.
NIBBLES: The White House released draft principles today that federal agencies should follow when regulating artificial intelligence technologies created by the private sector. The memo is the latest development in the American AI Initiative launched by President Trump last year.
The guidelines would provide a binding framework for agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration as it regulates AI-medical tools or the Federal Aviation Administration’s efforts to regulate autonomous drones. The memo would require agencies to weigh the risks of the technologies, taking public input as well as scientific research into account.
But the White House is taking a strong stance against heavy-handed regulation that could deter private-sector innovation, a potential coup for companies embattled with local and federal lawmakers. A senior White House official pointed to bans on facial recognition by cities and states as an example of the kind of “overregulation” the memo looks to deter.
The White House hopes the memo will serve as a model for the European Union as it rolls out its own guidelines, the official said. The memo also serves as a warning shot to authoritarian regimes such as China, which civil rights advocates have slammed for using artificial intelligence for human rights abuses.
The memo doesn’t address regulating how federal agencies use AI technology, an area of growing concern among lawmakers and activists. Many of the technical standards for assessing the discriminatory potential of technologies mentioned by the memo are still being identified by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
BYTES: YouTube announced new protections for children, including limits on data collection and advertising, my colleagues Greg Bensinger and Tony Romm report. The company aims to satisfy federal regulators who settled with the company for $170 million over children’s privacy violations last year. Under the platform’s new rules, content intended primarily for children cannot run with personalized advertisements.
All child-friendly content will be subject to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, which forbids tracking and targeting users 12 and under. YouTube will also limit commenting and live chats on videos targeting children.
But the changes, which lean on creators to label their content as intended for children, may not be enough, privacy experts tell my colleagues.
“There’s still a gray area for content that may not obviously be for children, but is mostly viewed by children,” said Josh Golin, executive director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, an advocacy group that was among those that filed complaints to the Federal Trade Commission about YouTube.
— 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg’s data analytics company Hawkfish is rapidly expanding as the billionaire’s presidential campaign ramps up, Brian Schwartz at CNBC reports. Big-name hires include former co-chief information officer at Goldman Sachs Elisha Wiesel, longtime Facebook chief marketing officer Gary Briggs and former Foursquare CEO Jeff Gluek.
Bloomberg is the only candidate with his own data analytics company. That could give him an edge in a race driven by social media spending and voter targeting.
The company debuted last year and assisted Democratic groups working for Democrats in the Virginia and Kentucky elections, Schwartz reports. Hawkfish’s hiring spree, which counts at least 50 new employees since the former NYC mayor entered the race, matches the campaign’s own ramp-up. Bloomberg has hired 500 organizers and field staff and has spent just over $20 million in Google and Facebook ads, Brian reports.
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— Coming up:
- CES takes place Tuesday through Friday in Las Vegas.
- The Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce of the House Energy Committee will hold a hearing, “Americans at Risk: Manipulation and Deception in the Digital Age,” on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.
- Silicon Flatirons will host its “Technology Optimism and Pessimism” conference Feb.. 9 and 10 at the University of Colorado Law School in Boulder, Colorado. Speakers include FCC Michael O’Rielly and FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra.
- Mobile World Congress takes place Feb. 24-27 in Barcelona.