"We know people would do crazy things to get ahead."

Hi-Tech Robbery

The gold rush into AI has sparked frenzied and at times misguided behavior from companies, from deploying AI to write badly written articles to firing therapists and replacing them with bots that give terrible advice.

But perhaps the frenzy is fiercest among AI tech companies themselves, which are in a pitched battle to grab talent and money.

Now add stealing corporate intellectual property to this list. Employees at Arthur AI, a company that helps other businesses optimize their AI models, are pointing fingers at rival company Arize AI for trying to steal corporate secrets during a Zoom presentation, according to the New York Times.

While outré, this kind of behavior wouldn't be entirely surprising. Olivier Toubia, a Columbia University professor of business innovation, told the NYT that since the dawn of the tech industry, rival companies have fought bitterly over ideas — like the storied rivalry between Apple and Microsoft.

Another recent example is FriendliAI, a Korean tech company that's suing another AI business, Hugging Face, for alleged patent infringement.

"We know people would do crazy things to get ahead," said Toubia.

Operation Zoom

But stealing intellectual property during a Zoom meeting? It's not a good look, especially as the topic of ethics dominates the conversation about AI.

The accusation is that Yan Fung, who claimed to be the head of technology at a startup called OneOneThree, contacted Arthur AI last year and asked for a demo, according to the NYT.

During a Zoom presentation on Arthur AI's technology, the story goes, Fung said that another colleague, Karina Patel, would join the meeting. But when the other colleague showed up, the name of Aparna Dhinakaran appeared on the screen, the NYT reports the name of the founder of rival company Arize AI.

With Arthur AI employees suddenly noticing that something was amiss, Fung's "colleague" abruptly left the virtual meeting, with Fung saying that he didn't know Dhinakaran, according to the NYT. Arthur AI employees, puzzled over the weird presentation, speculated that Yan Fung is actually an alias for Dat Ngo, an employee at Arize AI.

While it sounds like a clumsy, bush league attempt at corporate espionage, people should expect more similar shenanigans in the AI tech world as companies vie for capital, talent, ideas and power in the coming years.

More on artificial intelligence: Almost Three Quarters of Americans Distrust Artificial Intelligence

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