Linux Foundation to become home of WeBank’s FATE

The Linux Foundation announced the inclusion of federated learning framework FATE into the organisation.

The project has been contributed by Chinese digital bank WeBank, with organisations such as AI computing platform provider Clustar, e-commerce company JD.com’s subsidiary JD Intelligent Cities Research, and WeBank initiator Tencent already committed to the cause. 

Linux Foundation’s executive director Jim Zemlin explained the move in a canned statement, saying “A secure computing framework is critical for developers who are using data and models to build the latest applications across financial services, manufacturing, healthcare and more.” 

FATE is short for federated AI technology enabler and implements secure computation protocols in a federated computing framework for a variety of machine learning algorithms. It is part of the FedAI ecosystem which promotes federated learning as a way of collaboratively using data and modeling  “in accordance with user privacy protection, data security, data confidentiality and government regulations”. 

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While other initiatives focus on open source solely, the FedAI website lists engagement in the IEEE standards body as one of its achievements. As part of a Federated Machine Learning Working Group, WeBank’s FedAI ecosystem project helps to come up with a guide to provide “a blueprint for data usage and model building across organizations while meeting applicable privacy, security and regulatory requirements”. 

The goal may sound familiar, however membership is traditionally restricted to entities, so individuals don’t have the option to join the group as they could in open source projects. How this all fits in with the new home remains to be seen.

If you want to inspect FATE further, its code can be found on GitHub, where it is available under the Apache License 2.0.

The adoption of a security related project driven by China comes at a time of incused US government scrutiny of Chinese tech players, with Huawei being added to the US’s Entity List back in May. The US government’s explanation mentioned “reasonable cause to believe that Huawei has been involved in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States”.

Earlier this month the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, which is also part of the Linux Foundation, issued a statement about continuing the cooperation with the tech company nevertheless, since there are apparently no secrets in open source.

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