Green colored artificial intelligence with blockchain background

UK anti-trust regulator pushes against AI monopoly by industry players

The United Kingdom is working on setting out rules to prevent a monopoly of generative artificial intelligence (AI) models by leading AI companies ahead of its global AI summit.

Leading the charge is Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), following a call for the U.K. government to impose guardrails to prevent AI misuse. The U.K. anti-trust regulator noted that while AI offers immense benefits for productivity, it poses grave risks to society if left to develop without regulatory scrutiny.

CMA Chief Executive Sarah Cardell pointed out that one of the lesser-known AI risks is the possibility of the industry being dominated by a few companies, stifling the growth of smaller AI developers. Cardell added that these industry giants may exert undue influence over the markets at the expense of innovation in the space.

As a preemptive solution, the CMA has proposed a rulebook for regulating AI developers with a keen focus on accountability and transparency

“That’s why we have today proposed these new principles and launched a broad program of engagement to help ensure the development and use of foundation models evolves in a way that promotes competition and protects consumers,” Cardell said.

The CMA noted that it will seek public opinion as an added layer in its probe to monitor the activities of AI firms. Cardell confirmed that the regulator is already in talks with Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL), Meta (NASDAQ: META), OpenAI, and Anthropic over the direction of its proposed rules.

As of writing, generative AI has been dominated by a few large firms, with several smaller entities jostling for a seat at the table. OpenAI has the biggest market share following the release of ChatGPT in late 2022, causing Google and Anthropic to launch their generative AI chatbots to close the yawning gap.

Meta’s attempt to join the bandwagon saw it roll out Llama, an open-source product for enterprise use. Despite their leading positions, OpenAI, Google, and Meta are still launching new AI products with advanced functionalities, leaving smaller AI firms behind.

Aware of the monopolistic tendencies, several countries are wading into the space to encourage the development of local AI products for their residents. Top of the list is China, with over 70 AI models floated since the launch of interim AI rules. In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are reportedly spending millions of dollars to purchase AI chips.

UK’s attempts at regulating AI

As with other emerging technologies, the U.K. has adopted a proactive approach toward AI regulation, creating a dedicated task force to ensure safe usage of the technology. Rather than create a new agency, the U.K. is content to split responsibility amongst several regulatory bodies while pushing for uniform global standards.

In November, it will host a global AI summit to lay the foundations for an international AI regulatory framework with a government report urging the executive to extend invitations to non-state actors.

The U.K.’s opposition government has called for stricter regulations around AI, urging lawmakers to treat the sector in the same manner as the medical, nuclear, and pharmaceutical industries.

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