Oracle CEO Safra Catz unpacks TikTok data security, generative AI's promise, and tech diversity – TechSpot

In a nutshell: TikTok, the short-form video platform that’s facing a potential ban in the US over national security concerns, is hosted on Oracle data centers for users in the country. In an interview, Oracle CEO Safra Catz answers whether TikTok’s data can really be secured on Oracle’s cloud. She also has a lot to say about generative AI’s explosive growth.

When quizzed by Nikkei Asia in an interview about how the company is creating a safe environment for American TikTok users, Catz said, “All the data of US citizens is in that cloud. And we implemented gateways that we monitor so the data cannot be taken out.”

The company thoroughly vets TikTok’s code as well, with “hundreds of people actually working on that” to ensure it functions as expected. Oracle earned the high-profile TikTok deal due to “our experience in the US national security side, and our commitment to the security of US data,” according to Catz.

Oracle’s deal to act as TikTok’s trusted technology partner was reportedly worth $1 billion, representing a coveted prize in cloud computing. Still, a Forbes report from August suggested an “untrusting and adversarial” dynamic, with Oracle treating ByteDance like a “counterintelligence operation” rather than a customer. Navigating this tense relationship while upholding data integrity could determine if Oracle keeps its TikTok goldmine.

Separately, Catz remains bullish on generative AI’s potential to create jobs and improve lives as the technology surges even in the face of various concerns – like misinformation.

“Even though I get questions from government officials about ‘How should we slow it down?’, I’m not getting that from companies and I’m not getting that from individuals,” Catz said. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of optimism about it.”

While some fear AI will eliminate jobs, the CEO argued previous technological leaps like industrialization and the internet provoked similar worries that didn’t materialize. Instead, she expects AI tools will “lead to more jobs and more capabilities, because people who might not have necessarily been able to do some jobs with AI assistance will be able to do it better.”

Catz added that companies afraid to adopt transformative technologies often “just can’t make it to the next level.” She posited that when studying history, these kinds of “giant leaps in technology do happen” despite initial apprehension. And if people don’t adopt leaps in technology like these, they “often get passed by.”

The Oracle chief highlighted healthcare as one area ripe for AI’s benefits. She envisioned AI giving doctors data-driven diagnoses by comparing patients to millions of similar cases and enabling more time with patients rather than administrative tasks.

On concerns about data privacy risks surrounding generative AI, Catz said “Just because there’s new technology doesn’t mean you lose your rights…There are very clear rules on privacy. They are societally agreed on and put in by the people we vote to represent us.” However, she acknowledged those policies can evolve if people are “not satisfied with that.”

While long synonymous with Silicon Valley’s tech hub, Catz thinks cloud computing can democratize innovation globally by lowering barriers to entry. “With the advent of the cloud…I think it’s given enormous opportunities,” she said, adding: “Two people, even one, can just take some computer, use a credit card, and get started” on an idea.

On workforce diversity, Catz touted Oracle’s leadership team as “incredibly diverse,” pointing to top executives’ backgrounds like Juan Loaiza from Colombia and Steve Miranda from Mexico heading key divisions.

However, Oracle’s own transparency reports show men comprise 69% of its global workforce and 58% of US employees are white – highlighting room for improvement as the company works “to make sure we’ve got a lot of capabilities” represented.

Catz said Oracle is developing a high school computer science program for women on its corporate campus, a model she hopes other tech giants will follow. The company also actively recruits from underrepresented groups like veterans, she added.

Masthead credit: josefkubes


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