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UK Competition and Markets Authority Raises Alarms Over Big Tech’s AI Dominance

Jimmy Aki
Last updated: | 1 min read
Competition and Markets Authority logo on the screen and finger pointing at it.
The UK's Competition and Markets Authority flags growing concerns about the concentration of AI power in the hands of a few tech giants. Image by Ascannio, Adobe Stock.

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), led by Sarah Cardell, has voiced its displeasure with the control of AI Foundation Models (FMs) by a small number of tech companies. This concern was outlined in a paper presented by Cardell during an Antitrust Law Spring Meeting in Washington on April 11.

UK Competition and Markets Authority Concerned over Potential Market Exploitation

Cardell, head of the regulatory body, has expressed concern that Big Tech investments in the artificial intelligence sector could stifle competition.

“The essential challenge we face is how to harness this immensely exciting technology for the benefit of all, while safeguarding against potential exploitation of market power and unintended consequences. We’re committed to applying the principles we have developed, and to using all legal powers at our disposal – now and in the future – to ensure that this transformational and structurally critical technology delivers on its promise,” Cardell explained.

According to the CMA boss, there’s an “interconnected web of over 90 partnerships and strategic investments involving the same firms: Google, Apple, Microsoft, Meta, Amazon, and Nvidia (the leading supplier of AI accelerator chips).”

The concern is regarding the impact of these investments on customer choice and healthy competition within the rapidly growing AI sector.

The CMA chief outlines three specific dangers:

  • Control over inputs: Big Tech could gain control of essential AI inputs like data and specialized chips.
  • Limiting choice: Companies could leverage existing market power to limit user options for AI services.
  • Anti-competitive alliances: These tech giants could form partnerships explicitly to concentrate market power and hinder innovation.

Big Tech Firms Invest Massively In Artificial Intelligence

Companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google have invested billions in AI development, hiring top talent and building products for vast user bases.

Microsoft’s backing of OpenAI (the creators of ChatGPT and leading model GPT-4) is a prime example. These investments, while fueling progress, also solidify their positions as gatekeepers within the industry.

The CMA recognizes the potential benefits of AI and the expertise these corporations possess. However, Cardell worries that smaller companies could be squeezed out if the current trend continues.

The CMA’s stance echoes growing regulatory sentiment in the US and Europe as authorities grapple with Big Tech’s increasingly dominant role. Legal actions targeting anti-competitive practices suggest that scrutiny of these tech titans is only intensifying.