UK competition watchdog launches review of AI market

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The UK competition watchdog is launching a review of the artificial intelligence market, including the models behind popular chatbots such as ChatGPT, as the industry comes increasingly into global regulators’ crosshairs.

Sarah Cardell, chief executive of the UK Competition and Markets Authority, said the watchdog would examine so-called foundation models—such as the software underlying ChatGPT—and “how the markets around those models are developing.”

She told the Financial Times that the regulator would assess “the real opportunities there” but also “what kind of guardrails, what principles, we should be developing in terms of ensuring that competition is working effectively [and] consumers are being protected.”

The review comes as regulators around the world are increasing scrutiny of the development of generative AI—technology that can create images or text that are barely distinguishable from human output.

The sector has been a rare bright spot for technology innovation in the UK, partly due to the success of DeepMind, a homegrown start-up acquired by Google in 2014.

Earlier this week, the US Federal Trade Commission fired a warning shot to the industry, saying it is “focusing intensely on how companies may choose to use AI technology, including new generative AI tools, in ways that can have actual and substantial impact on consumers.”

The chief executives of AI companies, including Google, Microsoft, and ChatGPT-maker OpenAI, are also due to meet US Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday to discuss the safety of their products.

Cardell, who was appointed in December, said the CMA’s “fact-finding” mission into AI would engage “a whole host of different interested stakeholders, [including] businesses, academics, and others, to gather a rich and broad set of information.” She said the review would not be targeting “any particular companies.”

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