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Former Google engineer charged with stealing AI secrets

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A former Google software engineer has been charged withinside the US with stealing exchange secrets and techniques approximately synthetic intelligence (AI) at the same time as secretly running for two Chinese companies.

Linwei Ding, additionally referred to as Leon Ding, turned into indicted withinside the country of California on 4 charges and arrested on Wednesday.

The Chinese countrywide allegedly stole extra than 500 personal files.

He faces up to ten years in jail and $250,000 in fines on every count.

A lawyer for Mr Ding could not be identified to comment on the case, local media reported.

The information he is accused of taking relates to the infrastructure of Google’s supercomputing data centres, which are used to host and train large AI models.

According to the indictment, Mr Ding was hired by Google in 2019 and his responsibilities included developing this software.

He allegedly began uploading information stored in Google’s network to a personal Google account in May 2022. These uploads continued periodically for a year, the indictment reads.

Meanwhile, he is said to have spent several months in China working for Beijing Rongshu Lianzhi Technology – a start-up tech company that approached him. The indictment says he was offered $14,800 (£11,620) per month to be the company’s Chief Technology Officer.

He is also alleged to have started his own tech firm, Shanghai Zhisuan Technology, which had a focus on AI and machine learning, and made himself the CEO.

The BBC has contacted Rongshu, while Zhisuan could not be immediately reached for comment.

Prosecutors allege Mr Ding never told Google about his work for either company.

The indictment states that he applied to a China-based organisation to help develop this business and presented it at an investor conference in China in November 2023.

The following month, he was flagged by Google trying to upload more files to his personal computer while in China, but Mr Ding told Google’s investigator it was to provide proof that he worked for the tech giant.

When he returned to the US and unbeknownst to Google, Mr Ding is said to have booked a one-way ticket from San Francisco to Beijing, before resigning on 26 December.

Days later, Google once again became suspicious after learning about his actions at the conference and suspended his access – searching his activity history to reveal the unauthorised uploads.

A spokesman for Google, José Castañeda, said the company has “strict safeguards to prevent the theft of our confidential commercial information and trade secrets,” adding that the company quickly alerted the authorities when it found evidence of alleged wrongdoing.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement on Wednesday that Linwei Ding was seeking to enrich himself by covertly working for companies that were “seeking an edge in the AI technology race”.

“The Justice Department will not tolerate the theft of artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies that could put our national security at risk,” Mr Garland said.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said Mr Ding’s alleged actions “are the latest illustration of the lengths” companies in China will go to, “to steal American innovation”.

The US and China have been engaged in a bitter trade battle in recent years, with both sides attempting to gain a competitive edge over the other.

The dispute has seen both countries impose tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of one another’s goods.

Trade relations have worsened under the Biden administration, with the two sides imposing new barriers on trade, including restrictions on computer chip exports.

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Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury

Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury is the Editor of The Daily Dazzling Dawn. Previously, he has been serving in important positions in all the famous national dailies of the Bangladesh since the nineties. He has played a commendable role in journalism by participating in various events at the national and international levels. United Nations Conference, World Climate Conference, SAARC Summit are notable among them.

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