The relationship between G42, an influential AI firm based in the United Arab Emirates, and various Chinese companies has raised significant concerns among U.S. intelligence agencies. The most worrying aspect of the company’s relationship with the communist country is the potential for it to hand over U.S. technology that partners are forbidden from selling to China directly.
The New York Times reports that G42, an AI powerhouse based in the UAE, has increasingly caught the attention of American intelligence agencies, including the CIA, for its extensive ties with Chinese entities under U.S. sanctions such as Huawei.
The firm, under the control of Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed, has diversified its operations to encompass a range of sectors. Its portfolio includes a $10 billion technology investment fund, an Arabic language AI model, a healthcare company with genome-sequencing capabilities, and a substantial investment in ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of the globally popular social media app, TikTok.
The American intelligence community’s suspicions relate to G42’s technology infrastructure, which has been developed significantly with the aid of Chinese companies, including Huawei. This collaboration has prompted U.S. agencies to scrutinize G42’s subsidiary, Presight AI, which sells surveillance technology similar to that used by Chinese police forces.
In response to these concerns, G42 has asserted its compliance with U.S. government regulations and has begun redirecting its technological alliances towards American companies. This shift includes partnerships with firms like Cerebras and Nvidia to upgrade its supercomputing capabilities, moving away from its prior reliance on Chinese hardware.
Despite these reassurances, the CIA and other American intelligence agencies remain wary of G42’s collaborations with Chinese companies. There is ongoing worry that G42 could act as a channel for leaking advanced American technology to Chinese corporations or the government. there is also worries around the potential for American genetic data to fall into the hands of the Chinese government through G42’s operations.
The CIA has taken the unusual step of creating a classified profile of Peng Xiao, G42’s CEO, who previously held American citizenship before adopting Emirati nationality. The specifics of this profile and its conclusions about Xiao are currently undisclosed.
Further highlighting its connections with Chinese entities, G42 has engaged in significant collaborations in the Chinese healthcare sector. The firm partnered with Sinopharm, a Chinese pharmaceutical giant, to conduct Phase 3 clinical trials for a coronavirus vaccine. Additionally, G42’s involvement with BGI Genomics, a Chinese biotech firm, to distribute coronavirus tests globally has raised concerns, particularly when the Emirati government donated thousands of these tests to the State of Nevada. The U.S. officials subsequently warned Nevada about the potential for these tests to serve as a mechanism for the Chinese government to gather genetic data on Americans.
Read more at the New York Times here.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship.