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EU Antitrust Chief Warns of AI Impact on Merger Control Policy

 |  February 20, 2024

In a stern address yesterday, Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s antitrust chief and digital EVP, emphasized the imperative for enforcers to prioritize the impact of AI within merger control policy.

Warning of the potential unforeseen economic consequences stemming from expansive digital markets, Vestager delivered a verbal reprimand to major tech players, including Microsoft, Google, and Meta, signaling heightened scrutiny of their activities.

Addressing a seminar focused on preventing tech behemoths from monopolizing AI, Vestager underscored the necessity of evaluating vertical integration and ecosystems, taking into account the transformative effects of AI in merger assessments. Moreover, she cautioned against the emergence of new forms of algorithmic collusion facilitated by AI advancements.

Vestager’s remarks indicate a forthcoming increase in the EU’s engagement in scrutinizing tech mergers and AI partnerships. Last month, the EU announced an investigation into whether Microsoft’s investment in OpenAI, a leading generative AI company, complies with the bloc’s merger regulations.

Related: EU Reaches ‘Milestone’ On Road To Regulating AI

Furthermore, Vestager highlighted the inherent competition challenges intertwined with cutting-edge AI development, citing pervasive barriers to entry.

Vestager pointed out that the dominance of tech giants in acquiring vast data, cloud space, and talent poses significant obstacles for potential disruptors. Contrary to the notion of disruption driven by independent innovators, Vestager suggested that AI upheavals will emanate from within established tech ecosystems, reported TechCrunch.

The rapid ascent of generative AI in recent times has underscored the dominance of a select few firms with ties to major tech platforms or functioning as tech giants themselves. Examples include OpenAI’s collaboration with Microsoft, Google and Amazon’s investments in Anthropic, a rival of OpenAI, and Meta’s utilization of social media data to develop foundational AI models.

Vestager’s address serves as a clarion call for regulatory bodies to adapt to the evolving landscape of AI-driven innovation, emphasizing the critical role of merger control policies in safeguarding competition and preventing monopolistic tendencies within the digital sphere.

Source: Tech Crunch