After the increase of pressure on the Chinese Owner of TikTok to find a U.S. buyer for their popular chinese application, Microsoft has also revealed that it currently in talks to buy the U.S. operations of TikTok.
Microsoft is known for boring but widely used applications that keep corporations humming. Its Windows operations systems for PCs and its office productivity software are used to write documents, create spreadsheets and send email. But a video app like quirky offers Microsoft something its key rivals have that it lacks.
That’s growing as a critical component for the creation of AI, the technology that can understand speech, decipher images and handle different tasks that require basic decision making skills. Which is a reason why Microsoft is negotiating with TikTok parent ByteDance to acquire the app’s operations in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Chief executive of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, Oren Etzioni said that “If AI is the new electricity, the fuel that powers these plants is data”.
TikTok has a ton of data in the form of videos and billions of videos are uploaded to the service every year. Those videos offer insight into pop culture. They show people of different cultures engaged in a variety of activities. Microsoft can feed all that data into “training models” that help its artificial-intelligence systems learn.
Etzioni also said “You don’t really have that fire hose unless you are plugged in from the inside”.
A professor of natural and artificial intelligence at Stanford University, Noah Goodman said, Microsoft’s biggest competitors in developing artificial intelligence systems all have their own video data. Like Google has YouTube, Amazon owns the Twitch game streaming service, and Facebook’s massive base of users regularly posts videos.
Microsoft doesn’t have access to that among the big AI companies. Last Friday, after the administration raised national security concerns that ByteDance could hand over data on Amricans to the Chinese Government, President Trump said he planned to ban the app from operating in the United States. Despite earlier considering ordering a sale of the app, on friday Trump said he was not in the favour of that path.
But on Sunday, after speaking with Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella, the company said Trump was swayed. TikTok now has time until Sept. 15. Before that they have to decide whether they will sell it to a U.S. company or cease operations in the country.
According to the Administration, Microsoft is an attractive buyer because it’s one of the few tech giants that isn’t being investigated for anti-competitive tactics. The CEOs of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple all appeared last week before a House subcommittee investigating tech giants’ abuse of their power. But not Nadella.