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US Antitrust Chief to Prioritize AI Sector Amid Monopoly Concerns

 |  June 9, 2024

The top US antitrust enforcer, Jonathan Kanter, has announced that the Department of Justice (DoJ) will urgently scrutinize the artificial intelligence (AI) sector. This decision follows rising concerns that control over this transformative technology is being concentrated in the hands of a few deep-pocketed companies, according to a report by the Financial Times.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Kanter revealed that his examination of the AI industry would cover various aspects, including monopoly choke points and the competitive landscape. This encompasses everything from computing power and the data used to train large language models (LLMs), to cloud service providers, engineering talent, and access to essential hardware like graphics processing unit (GPU) chips.

Regulators are increasingly worried that the burgeoning AI sector is “at the high-water mark of competition, not the floor,” necessitating urgent action to prevent already dominant tech companies from controlling the market, Kanter emphasized.

“Sometimes the most meaningful intervention is when the intervention is in real time,” Kanter stated. “The beauty of that is you can be less invasive.”

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Now in his third year at the Department of Justice, Kanter, along with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), has led a more aggressive antitrust approach. This has included lawsuits against tech giants such as Google and Apple, which the US government accuses of maintaining unfair monopolies in services like app stores, search engines, and digital advertising. Kanter has closely collaborated with FTC Chair Lina Khan in these efforts.

According to the Financial Times, regulators are particularly focused on the generative AI sector and the competitive dynamics in microchips. Kanter highlighted that GPUs, crucial for training LLMs, have become a “scarce resource.” Nvidia, a dominant player in the advanced GPU market, saw its market capitalization surpass Apple’s on Wednesday, making it the world’s second-most valuable listed company.

The DoJ and FTC have reportedly reached an agreement to divide antitrust oversight of key AI players. The DoJ will lead investigations into Nvidia, while the FTC will oversee the evaluation of Microsoft’s and OpenAI’s activities, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Source: Financial Times