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Data Sheet—Monday, September 19, 2016

Talk about upstaging a competitor. Oracle plans to make a big proclamation today about how artificial intelligence and the scads of consumer and business data it has bought over the past couple of years will make its sales, marketing, human resources, and financial management applications far smarter than anything else out there.

I know because the software giant helpfully decided to send me the news last night after rival Salesforce trumpeted a similar message earlier Sunday, the day Oracle’s massive annual OpenWorld conference kicked off in San Francisco.

Oracle, for example, claims that its so-called Adaptive Intelligent Applications will do things such as help finance teams find the best terms for a contract or guide sales representatives about ideal times to approach prospects. Its promise is informed by its data cloud, which hosts more than 5 billion profiles of companies and individuals that can customize insights depending on what you’re looking for.

The pitch is similar for Salesforce Einstein, a service that will endow the cloud giant’s marketing, sales, service, and e-commerce applications with more predictive capabilities. One of the more alluring ideas: the ability to “predict” which sales contact is most likely to sign on the dotted line. Wouldn’t you rather call that person? The technology builds on several acquisitions including the buyouts of RelateIQ and Metamind.

Oracle and Salesforce are far from alone in their worship of artificial intelligence, of course. Every software company interested in sticking around for the long term is investing in machine learning and other AI technologies that should help automate mundane tasks that we humans usually hire assistants to help us cope with. The real question is not how long it will take for these capabilities to become useful, but rather how long will it take for us to trust them.

On that note, have a terrific Monday!

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Heather Clancy is a contributing editor at Fortune. Email her. Share this essay.

BITS AND BYTES

Larry Ellison: Watch out, Amazon. Oracle spent more than $299 million on improving its cloud data centers last quarter. It’s all part of a mission to undercut Amazon Web Services’ lead in cloud computing and data storage services. (Fortune)

Samsung downsizes stock holdings to fund recall. The South Korean smartphone giant is selling some of its shares in drive maker Seagate Technology, Japanese electronics firm Sharp, and Dutch semiconductor company ASML. The proceeds will go toward the $1 billion bill for replacing an estimated 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7 devices, which are being recalled over fire safety concerns. (Wall Street Journal)

Twitter faces shareholder lawsuit. The social media company hasn’t delivered on a two-year-old projection that it would reach 550 million users in the “intermediate” term—it’s still hovering around 330 million. That promise is the subject of a suit filed last Friday, one that seeks class-action status. (Bloomberg)

It looks like security company Infoblox is going private. Fortune‘s Dan Primack reports that Vista Equity is preparing a $1.6 billion buyout offer. The company, which makes server “appliances” that secure corporate networks, went public in 2012. It reported a net loss of $14 million and $358 million in revenue for its fiscal year ended July 31. (Fortune)

PEOPLE AND CULTURE

Jack Dorsey thinks Snowden should be pardoned. A campaign launched last weeks asks supporters to send emails urging President Obama to lift Edward Snowden’s espionage charges before leaving office. That would allow Snowden, now in voluntary exile in Russia, to return to the U.S. (Fortune)

Salesforce CEO dives into new cause. Marc Benioff has earned credibility as a serious philanthropist and, more recently, as a champion of gender equality and diversity. Now he and his wife, Lynne, are turning their attention to the world’s oceans, starting with a $10 million “gift” backing a new research effort spearheaded by the University of California, Santa Barbara. (Fortune)

THE DOWNLOAD

Why the best news for Intel investors isn’t improving PC sales. Venkata “Murthy” Renduchintala, who oversees several of Intel’s biggest businesses as president, stopped by Fortune’s offices in early September on the day the new iPhones were unveiled to talk about his view of the future.

The hourlong conversation ranged from big data and machine learning to new wireless technologies like 5G to what it was like to jump to Intel from competitor Qualcomm after 12 years. One topic that didn’t come up: the PC market.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Lyft President Says Car Ownership Will ‘All But End’ in U.S. Cities by 2025, by Kia Kokalitcheva

Stop Sharing This New Facebook Hoax, by Jeff John Roberts

An Apple a Day: There’s More to It Than iPhone 7, by Don Reisinger

ONE MORE THING

Smart bra startup gets $10 million uplift. Montreal-based OMsignal has a waiting list of 10,000 women who are eager to wear its sports bra, which can collect heart rate data and other biometric information through its fabric. (Reuters)

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Heather Clancy.

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