Apple buys edge-based AI startup Xnor.ai for a reported $200M

in technology •  last month 

Apple buys edge-based AI startup Xnor.ai for a reported $200M (TechCrunch)

  • Apple has reportedly acquired AI start-up Xnor.ai for almost US$200m.
  • Xnor.ai began as a process for making machine learning algorithms highly efficient and was spun off the non-profit Allen Institute for AI (AI2) in 2017, raising US$2.7m in early 2017 and US$12m in 2018.
  • The company specialises in bringing intelligence to “smart” devices, i.e. running machine learning on-device rather than in the cloud.

Analysis and Comments

  • Apple reportedly beat approaches from other big groups including Microsoft, Amazon and Intel with its US$200m offer, which is the latest in a series of small AI acquisitions.
  • Apple’s pursuit of better on-device AI capabilities makes sense given the backdrop of increasing scrutiny from regulators regarding big tech companies: Apple likely intends for its devices to operate independent of the cloud for tasks that are particularly sensitive to privacy concerns (e.g. facial recognition, natural language processing, and augmented reality).
  • This allows users to retain full control of their personal data and would give Apple an edge in the fight to distinguish itself from other big tech companies.

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