Chinese National Accused of Stealing AI Secrets From Google – The New York Times

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Linwei Ding, a Chinese national, was arrested in California and accused of uploading hundreds of files to the cloud.

A Chinese citizen who recently quit his job as a software engineer for Google in California has been charged with trying to transfer artificial intelligence technology to a Beijing-based company that paid him secretly, according to a federal indictment unsealed on Wednesday.

Prosecutors accused Linwei Ding, who was part of the team that designs and maintains Google’s vast A.I. supercomputer data system, of stealing information about the “architecture and functionality” of the system, and of pilfering software used to “orchestrate” supercomputers “at the cutting edge of machine learning and A.I. technology.”

From May 2022 to May 2023, Mr. Ding, also known as Leon, uploaded 500 files, many containing trade secrets, from his Google-issued laptop to the cloud by using a multistep scheme that allowed him to “evade immediate detection,” according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Northern District of California.

Mr. Ding was arrested on Wednesday morning at his home in Newark, Calif., not far from Google’s sprawling main campus in Mountain View, officials said.

Starting in June 2022, Mr. Ding was paid $14,800 per month — plus a bonus and company stock — by a China-based technology company, without telling his supervisors at Google, according to the indictment. He is also accused of working with another company in China.

Mr. Ding openly sought funding for a new A.I. start-up company he had incorporated at an investor conference in Beijing in November, boasting that “we have experience with Google’s 10,000-card computational power platform; we just need to replicate and upgrade it,” prosecutors said in the indictment, which was unsealed in San Francisco federal court.

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