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Why the few big AI players scare US antitrust officials

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U.S. antitrust regulators are investigating Big Tech’s role in the AI boom and if its business practices impede competition.
The U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have divided the top industry companies, putting Nvidia and Microsoft closer to prospective probes.

Google Trial Ends: Judge Now Contemplates Historic US Antitrust

File Photo: Google Tax: What it Means and how it Works

Here are some AI concerns authorities worry about:
In an April event at the University of Chicago, Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter spoke about the “sense of urgency” to address big firms’ access to data for AI model training.
“To the extent data has been aggregated or resides in the hands of a small few, that may become the high water mark for competition because the barriers to entry in scale and access to these key ingredients are limited to a small number of players,” stated.

Generative AI may also affect creatives and engineers who construct the technology.
“Absent competition to compensate creators for their works, AI companies could exploit monopsony power on levels we have never seen before,” Kanter said at a Stanford University AI conference co-hosted by the Justice Department in late May. Monopsony power refers to one or a few employers dominating labor markets.
Even the world’s leading automakers struggled to decarbonize heavy cargo trucks, which accounted for 20% of UK transport emissions last year.
Last year, the FTC, which recently banned noncompete agreements, raised worries about AI firms stopping qualified staff from joining competitors.
The FTC ordered OpenAI, Microsoft, Alphabet , Amazon

Photo: Antitrust

, and Anthropic to disclose information on recent investments and partnerships in their investigation into AI businesses and cloud service providers in January.

“We are scrutinizing whether these ties enable dominant firms to exert undue influence or gain privileged access in ways that could undermine fair competition across layers of the AI stack,” Lina Khan said at the time.
The regulator wants to know how Big Tech alliances affect strategy and “decisions around the pricing of products and services; decisions around the granting of access to products and services; and decisions around personnel.”
Khan remarked at the University of Chicago conference that scrutiny of partnerships should “ensure that they are not a way to sidestep merger review.”

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