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US DOJ Intensifies Scrutiny on AI Competition Amid Big Tech Investments

 |  May 12, 2024

The US Justice Department (DOJ) has announced a ramping up of its focus on competition within the AI sector. Top officials disclosed this initiative, highlighting a workshop scheduled to take place at Stanford University on May 30.

Susan Athey, the chief economist in the DOJ’s antitrust division, unveiled the forthcoming event during a Bloomberg roundtable, emphasizing the participation of industry leaders, researchers, and government officials. This development unfolds against the backdrop of the Biden administration’s vigorous pursuit of antitrust cases against tech giants such as Alphabet’s Google, Amazon, and Meta Platforms.

The workshop, according to Bloomberg reports, aims to foster dialogue among stakeholders on critical issues surrounding competition in the AI landscape. Notable figures slated to speak include Andrew Ng, the founder of DeepLearning.AI, alongside representatives from US and UK governmental bodies.

Related: Big Tech Calls On EU Not To Regulate General Purpose Artificial Intelligence

Of particular concern to antitrust enforcers is the interdependence of leading AI startups on established tech behemoths for both financial backing and infrastructure support. Recent investments by Microsoft Corp., Amazon, and Google, totaling billions of dollars, underscore the gravity of this issue. Microsoft’s staggering $13 billion investment in OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, has come under intense scrutiny, especially following the tumultuous events surrounding the ousting and subsequent reinstatement of OpenAI’s CEO, Sam Altman, last November.

The deepening ties between Microsoft and OpenAI have raised eyebrows not only in the US but also across the pond, drawing attention from antitrust regulators in the UK and the European Union. In January, the US Federal Trade Commission revealed its examination of Microsoft’s investment, in conjunction with similar financial moves by Amazon and Alphabet.

Furthermore, the DOJ disclosed that it has launched multiple probes into competition dynamics within the AI sector, including investigations into potential violations of US antitrust laws. One area of focus involves examining whether AI companies are employing shared executives or directors, a practice that could potentially stifle competition and innovation.

Source: Bloomberg