Donald Trump is Jeb Bush’s opposite in every way (except nepotism). But he’s even more of the anti-Jeb when it comes to technology. Whereas Jeb—perhaps pushing back at his brother’s invocation of “the internets” at a 2000 debate with alleged found of said internets Al Gore—is all about celebrating technology by publishing his emails and pointing to his Apple Watch, baby, Trump does not seem to know how computers work or even what they are. All he knows is that cyber is complicated and Barron is a hacker.
At a surprise press conference—with a surreal, flag-waving Don King at his side—Trump was asked about the possibility of retaliating against Russia for its alleged role in the hacking of the DNC:
I think we ought to get on with our lives. I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what is going on. We have speed, we have a lot of other things, but I’m not sure we have the kind the security we need.
This has gotten a fair amount of play, but it’s how Trump has insulated himself from the charge that he was consciously benefiting from Russian hacks from the very beginning: Computers are complicated and they make assessing blame complicated, so it’s best we not concern ourselves too greatly with complications. Instead, Trump has responded by making rather abstract arguments for better cybersecurity, like the one above. Whether or not this rather blasé attitude toward “cyber” would change if Trump suffered from a similar hack is an open question, though I suspect it’s one whose answer is fairly easy to predict.
But that is putting the cart before the horse. “The whole age of computer” is a marvelous phrase, and a perfect descriptor for the current age. The anthropocene is no more. Welcome to the age of computer.