The Federal Trade Commission has initiated an inquiry into the multibillion-dollar investments made by tech behemoths Microsoft, Amazon, and Google in artificial intelligence startups OpenAI and Anthropic.
These investments, previously escaping significant regulatory scrutiny, have allowed these tech giants to forge substantial connections with smaller AI firms.
Microsoft’s substantial investments in OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, and the billions committed by Amazon and Google to Anthropic, have prompted the FTC to examine how these deals impact the competitive landscape.
Traditionally, regulators have primarily focused on antitrust issues related to outright acquisitions, but this inquiry signals a shift in scrutinizing stakes these companies buy in startups.
The FTC, under the leadership of Chair Lina Khan, aims to shed light on the influence these investments have on innovation and fair competition.
The study seeks to comprehend how dominant companies’ partnerships and investments rapidly expand their influence in the AI domain.
This marks the agency’s first major effort to grasp how such deals alter the dynamics of the AI sector.
The inquiry will require Microsoft, Amazon, and Google to provide details on their influence over OpenAI and Anthropic and share internal documents shedding light on the deals’ potential impacts on competition.
Internationally, regulators like the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority and the European Commission are also scrutinizing these tech giants’ investments in AI startups.
The study could pave the way for a formal investigation into potential antitrust violations.
The FTC’s additional powers, including public studies, provide a means to understanding specific corporate conduct and its effects on the economy.
This inquiry could be a pivotal moment in shaping regulations to ensure fair competition and innovation in the rapidly evolving AI landscape.