Artificial IntelligenceCryptocurrencyMetaverseCybersecurityTech Forward

Data Sheet—Trump Is Tightening the Screws on U.S. Tech Exports to China

November 21, 2018, 12:25 PM UTC

This is the web version of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the top tech news. To get it delivered daily to your in-box, sign up here.

The Trump administration is proposing sweeping new limits on U.S. exports of advanced technologies to China in an effort to stop the world’s second-largest economy from encroaching on American leadership in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and self-driving vehicles.

In a document published Monday in the Federal Register, the Commerce Department announced it is seeking public comment by December 19 on whether to impose new controls on a long list of technologies that could be used for “potential conventional weapons, intelligence collection, weapons of mass destruction, or terrorist applications or could provide the United States with a qualitative military or intelligence advantage.”

The department’s list included: artificial intelligence, computer vision, speech recognition, audio and video manipulation technology, microprocessor technology, micro-drone and micro-robotic systems, 3-D printing, self-driving cars, robots, quantum computing, mind-machine interfaces and flight control algorithms. And the document identified a number of technologies that sounded more likely to appear in a Marvel movie than an actual lab, including: mind-machine interfaces, molecular robotics, adaptive camouflage, swarming technology, and smart dust.

Imposing export controls on such a broad range of technologies would cause consternation in Silicon Valley, potentially affecting the exports of companies including Apple, Google, and IBM. And Nvidia just announced a deal to supply its Xavier A.I. chip to at least three Chinese self-driving car startups.

The Commerce Department’s announcement is only an initial notice of rules under study. But a comment period clears the way for the administration to order binding export restrictions. Some tech experts expressed concern that it might create significant market barriers to U.S. companies doing business in China.

Eurasia Group’s Paul Triolo, in a tweet, said implications of the announcement were “huge.” He predicted that, while there would be much comment and refinement of the restrictions, the “vast majority are likely to stay on the list…clearly directed at China.”

The clampdown on U.S. tech exports comes as President Tump prepares to meet with Chinese president Xi Jinping later this month. Prospects for a lasting resolution seem unlikely, however. The Commerce Department announcement follows approval this summer of legislation that vastly expands the power of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to regulate U.S. technology investments on national security grounds.

Rising tech tensions between the U.S and China will be among the many issues we’ll tackle Guangzhou next week at the Fortune Global Tech Forum. If you’re not able to join us, look for full coverage on

Clay Chandler


Sweet potato pie. Design and architecture software developer Autodesk is going big on construction technology, agreeing to pay $875 million for startup PlanGrid. The deal, Autodesk’s biggest ever, marks the first major acquisition for Autodesk CEO Andrew Anagnost, who took over the design software firm 16 months ago.

Gravy and all the fixin's. A special version of Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S10 phone will be able to run on new super-fast 5G wireless networks, the Wall Street Journal reports, though there won't be much 5G coverage nationwide for another year or two. Also, copying Apple's playbook, Samsung will go with three screen sizes next year instead of its usual two.

Cranberry sauce. As part of its push into healthcare, Apple has pitched the Department of Veterans Affairs on incorporating the medical records of the 9 million vets currently in the federal system into the company's portable, iPhone-based format. No word on whether the project will come to fruition, or even if talks are still active.

Homemade stuffing. When Disney bought much of 21st Century Fox this year, antitrust regulators mandated that Disney sell off the 22 regional sports networks it acquired in the deal. Now bidding has begun and, in addition to the usual suspects, Amazon has offered to buy the sports channels, CNBC reports.

Mashed potatoes. SoftBank's Vision Fund doesn't appear to be curbing its appetite to invest in startups despite the recent controversy around its Saudi Arabian backers. On Tuesday, South Korean e-commerce company Coupang said the Vision Fund invested $2 billion in a deal valuing the company at $9 billion.

Brining the turkey. Taking the offensive, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg went after the New York Times story about decision making at his company. "A lot of the things that were in that report, we talked to the reporters ahead of time and told them that from everything that we'd seen, that wasn't true and they chose to print it anyway," the CEO said in an interview with CNN on Tuesday.

Leftovers for breakfast. Wireless consumers in the United States pay the most overall for a gigabyte of data among 41 developed countries in the European Union and OECD. U.S. consumer also pay about 16 times more per gigabyte than consumers in the largest European markets with four wireless carriers, according to the study by Finnish telecom consulting firm Rewheel.


Seeking to cut through the ever more invasive digital advertising clutter, many brands have turned to social networks. But it's not just to invade your feed with even more ads. There's also a growing market for mentions, reviews, and appearances on the Instagram and YouTube channels of highly-followed influencers, as Paris Martineau reports for Wired. One popular YouTuber was offered "a couple of thousand dollars" to leave a specific beverage on his desk during a video. A single Instagram photo post can bring in $10,000 and a YouTube video at least $40,000, Martineau writes, but many brands may be overpaying:

“The system is a bit broken,” says Eyal Baumel, CEO of Yoola, a digital media company that works with influencers on YouTube and other platforms. Some brands are so set on working with a particular type of influencer that they’ll pay astronomical prices for a single post just to get their name in front of the right audience, Baumel says. Ben Neiley, who has worked in influencer marketing and will soon join L'Oréal as a marketing associate, says the prices reflect the relative youth of social media marketing and brands’ eagerness to participate. He says brands crave the perceived authenticity that comes with more subtle campaign styles like influencer marketing. Even if a sponsored post is properly disclosed as an ad, many viewers won’t recognize it as such.


NASA Was So Unamused by Elon Musk's Pot Smoking Stunt That It's Now Reviewing SpaceX's Contract By Lucas Laursen

Forget Your Password at Microsoft Sites. Use a USB Key Instead By Glenn Fleishman

The "System Failed:" Facebook’s Outgoing Policy Chief Takes the Fall for Smear Tactics By David Meyer

Facebook's Newest Feature Tells Users to Get Off Facebook By Laura Stampler

Snap's Bringing Spectacles Back Despite Weak Sales of the Original By Chris Morris

Long Island City Real Estate Booms After Amazon Announces New York Office, Report Says By Emily Gillespie

Americans Still Want Human Contact—Even Though the Smartphones Are Calling By Don Reisinger


Undecided about your holiday streaming fare for the next few days? New York's Vulture blog has a great rundown of some of the all-time best Thanksgiving-themed episodes of TV, recounting classics from Friends to The Simpsons. But it's hard to disagree with their choice for top turkey episode, the 1978 comedic gem "Turkeys Away” from the show WKRP in Cincinnati. And it's even available for streaming on Hulu. Happy Thanksgiving, Data Sheet readers.

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman. Find past issues, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters.