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Tech giants in the sights of the US trade authority

After the EU, the US trade authority FTC is also becoming active in matters of artificial intelligence. She wants to check whether the big tech companies are distorting competition through their collaboration on AI.

The billion-dollar deals through which tech giants have gained access to new AI technology from start-ups are being targeted by US regulators. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requested more information about such agreements from Microsoft, Amazon and Google parent Alphabet.

Among other things, they want to investigate the question of whether investments by “dominant companies” could distort competition, explained FTC boss Lina Khan.

Microsoft had entered into a billion-dollar pact with OpenAI, the developer of the popular chatbot ChatGPT. This gave the software giant access to the technology behind ChatGPT and is now integrating it into all of its products on a large scale. The deal brought OpenAI much-needed money and computing resources.

Are large corporations forcing smaller competitors out of the market?

Khan has made it his mission to ensure more competition in the American technology industry and to limit the market power of the tech giants. Requests for information about the deals also went to OpenAI and Anthropic. Anthropic has a chatbot called “Claude” that acts as a competitor to ChatGPT.

Among other things, the FTC wants to know what influence the agreements had on the development of new products. It also collects data on market share and competition for computing resources. One concern among authorities is that generative AI, which can create human-level content through software in just a few seconds, requires massive computing power that only large tech companies have.

Both Google and Amazon have made major investments in the AI ​​company. Amazon and Anthropic have also agreed to work together in several areas, such as the development of AI chips. The FTC wants to take a closer look at such collaborations.

EU is also examining Microsoft's OpenAI investments

FTC studies aimed to gain a “deeper understanding of market trends and business practices,” the regulator explained. The results could help initiate legal action.

At the end of December, the Federal Cartel Office warned of an increase in power of the already powerful digital companies through the use of AI. And the EU competition watchdog announced an audit of Microsoft's investments in OpenAI at the beginning of January.

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