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May 4, 2023

The UK antitrust watchdog announces an initial review of artificial intelligence

The move comes amid a flurry of global investigations into AI

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has announced its intention to investigate the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on consumers, businesses, and the economy. The review will assess whether new controls are needed on technologies such as OpenAI's ChatGPT. While AI research has been ongoing for years, the popularity of generative AI applications like ChatGPT and Midjourney has highlighted their potential to revolutionize the way society and businesses operate.

Governments worldwide are grappling with finding the right balance between regulating AI's potential negative consequences and fostering innovation. In March, Britain opted to split regulatory responsibility for AI among the bodies that oversee human rights, health and safety, and competition, instead of creating a new body dedicated to the technology.

The CMA plans to commence the review by seeking to understand how foundation models that use large amounts of unlabelled data are developing and assess how they could be used to complete multiple tasks in the future. CMA CEO Sarah Cardell emphasized the importance of ensuring that the potential benefits of this transformative technology are readily accessible to UK businesses and consumers while people are protected from issues like false or misleading information.

This review echoes investigations taking place globally, from Beijing to Brussels and Washington. The US is exploring possible rules to regulate AI, and the Digital Ministers from the G7 leading economies agreed last month to adopt "risk-based" regulation on AI that would also preserve an open environment for the technology's development.

Italy, a G7 member, recently took ChatGPT offline to investigate its potential breach of personal data rules, leading other European privacy regulators to launch investigations. The CMA's review gives Britain's competition regulator an opportunity to join the debate on AI regulation after making headlines worldwide last week by blocking Microsoft's $69 billion takeover of Activision Blizzard.

According to Lawyer Verity Egerton-Doyle at Linklaters, the review provides the CMA with an opportunity to lead the global debate on generative AI regulation, as the EU's Digital Markets Act does not cover the technology. The US Federal Trade Commission is already looking into this area, and the CMA is sure to join the discussion.

Neil Hodgson Coyle
Neil Hodgson-Coyle
Editorial chief at TechNews180
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