FTC launches investigation into Big Tech’s AI investments

The study focuses on Microsoft, Google, and Amazon’s multibillion-dollar investments in OpenAI and Anthropic and assesses their potential impact on competition.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has launched multiple investigations to ensure competition in the growing field of generative AI is not influenced by Big Tech.

The FTC announced that it has ordered five companies to provide more information about recent investments and partnerships involving generative AI companies and large cloud service providers. The group said businesses must respond within 45 days of receiving the order.

The commission said it aimed to better understand the relationships between five large tech companies and AI providers in order to assess the impact on the competitive environment. The companies investigated are Alphabet, Amazon, Anthropic, Microsoft, and OpenAI.

“History shows that new technologies can create new markets and healthy competition,” said FTC Chair Lina M. Khan. “As companies race to develop and monetize AI, we must be wary of tactics that steal this opportunity.

“Our research will reveal whether the investments and partnerships pursued by leading companies risk distorting innovation and undermining fair competition.”

The investigation focuses on three separate multibillion-dollar investments, including Microsoft’s investment in OpenAI. The tech giant has been a major investor in OpenAI in recent years, and its market value has soared over the past year, putting it on par with Apple as the world’s most valuable company.

The FTC’s investigation is also looking into Amazon and Google’s separate investments in Anthropic, an AI startup founded last year by former OpenAI employees. The company received help from Google when it released its own generative AI chatbot – Claude – as an alternative to OpenAI’s popular ChatGPT.

Anthropic also announced a $4 billion investment from Amazon last year, agreeing to make the tech giant its primary cloud provider.

The FTC said it will consider information regarding market share, competition, competitors, markets, and potential for sales growth or expansion into specific regions or markets.

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