Google, Microsoft, and Amazon drool over Chinese AI market while Apple woos Trump
The US and Chinese governments have spent the last year setting the table for a trade war, but don’t tell big tech.
Apple’s looking pretty smug now that President Trump’s agreed to relax some of the impending tariffs on Chinese goods – specifically those that would have made it more expensive to manufacture items like the Apple Watch.
This is certainly a feather in the cap of CEO Tim Cook after he dined with the President and First Lady last month. It appears that Cook is employing the “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar” strategy to best protect the interests of Apple’s board. Trump uses a similar strategy with polarizing political leaders such as Vladmir Putin, Kim Jong Un, and Rodrigo Duterte.
Meanwhile, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon showed off their AI products this week at the Chinese state-sponsored World Artificial Intelligence Conference, in Shanghai, hoping to woo the Chinese government into opening up its glorious data coffers.
China’s state-sponsored AI program is well on track to gathering the largest shared datasets on the planet. Having access to these amazing pools of data would instantly buff any AI company’s ability to train neural networks. But, it’s probably not just the Chinese data pool that beckons some of the richest companies on the planet.
Data may be the lifeblood of artificial intelligence, but capitalism is powered by cold hard cash. China represents one of the largest market segments on the planet. That’s why, on Monday, Microsoft and Amazon both announced plans to build AI offices in Shanghai.
Google, for its part, is still stinging from internal conflict and media scrutiny over its bungled attempt to keep the development of a censorship engine for the Chinese government secret.
In our analysis, it looks like Apple’s strategy is to ride out Trump’s mercurial approach to international trade while the rest of big tech pretends the Chinese government doesn’t use AI to engage in what some experts consider to be egregious civil rights violations.
If you’re not concerned about the Chinese government making sweetheart deals with US AI companies, or how Apple became the first company worth a trillion dollars by exploiting US tax law and politics, then now’s probably a good time to pad your portfolio with big tech stocks.
Disclaimer: You probably shouldn’t take financial advice from a technology journalist.