The organizer of the conference that’s bringing former Presidential Adviser Steve Bannon to speak on the University of Montana campus says Bannon has credibility with those coming to the conference.
Adrian Cheok organized the International Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology, which happens at UM December 10 through the 14. It covers research topics like virtual reality and gaming technologies.
Interviewed from Malaysia, where he runs the Imagineering Institute, Cheok said Bannon’s experience includes working with with a Hong Kong-based start-up called Internet Gaming Entertainment, which sold virtual goods for real money in the online gaming world.
Cheok says Bannon will give a conference keynote about how economic nationalism can end outsourcing and, in turn, help minorities.
“Economic nationalism will help minorities, it will help black people to get jobs in the tech industry, in the computer entertainment industry, and now they’re kind of crowded out by a billion Chinese people,” Cheok says.
Another keynote speaker pulled out because, Cheok says, he did not want to be associated with the controversy Bannon brings to the table.
Cheok says he chose Montana because it’s a beautiful place for a holiday, and also to introduce the community to this sector of research.
“We’d like to go to somewhere which is not one of those of places of entertainment technology now, but could be in the future.”
UM Spokesperson Paula Short declined to be interviewed for this story. In a statement she says the conference is not sponsored by the university but says it’s common for outside groups to reserve campus facilities. Short says UM has security measures in place to ensure, "all are able to express their views productively and safely."
Cheok says the conference usually draws about 40 to 50 people, but he expects more in Missoula since he is waiving the $880 registration fee for UM faculty and students, and will allow anyone with a Montana driver’s license free entrance to Bannon’s keynote.