UK probes AI market to protect competition

4 May 2023

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The CMA said the review aims to help ‘rapidly scaling’ AI technology develop in ways that ensure open, competitive markets and effective consumer protection.

A UK watchdog has begun a review into AI to assess how these systems will evolve and their potential impacts on market competition.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will focus its investigation on “foundation” AI models, which includes large language models and generative AI systems such as ChatGPT.

The review will assess how these foundation models and their markets are developing, along with the opportunities and risks AI could bring in terms of competition and consumer protection.

Following this review, the watchdog plans to produce “guiding principles” to support competition and protect consumers.

The UK watchdog said AI touches upon a number of issues including safety, security, copyright, privacy and human rights. The watchdog’s CEO Sarah Cardell said that the technology has “burst into the public consciousness” recently but has been “on our radar for some time”.

“It’s a technology developing at speed and has the potential to transform the way businesses compete as well as drive substantial economic growth,” Cardell said.

“It’s crucial that the potential benefits of this transformative technology are readily accessible to UK businesses and consumers while people remain protected from issues like false or misleading information.

“Our goal is to help this new, rapidly scaling technology develop in ways that ensure open, competitive markets and effective consumer protection.”

The CMA is seeking views from stakeholders and is accepting submissions until 2 June, before publishing a report on its findings in September.

AI concerns

The CMA review follows recent concerns highlighted by Geoffrey Hinton, seen by many as the ‘godfather of AI’.

Hinton left his role at Google earlier this week so he can freely talk about the potential dangers of AI. In recent interviews, he shared concerns about AI being used for nefarious purposes, along with the potential risk to the job market and the current arms race between tech giants.

Meanwhile, the chair of the US Federal Trade Commission Lina Khan has called for more AI regulation in a New York Times article.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic