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NextGen Competition Statement on FTC Investigation into Big-Tech AI Business Relationships

We applaud the FTC for investigating Microsoft’s increasing influence over OpenAI

Jan 25, 2024

The following statement can be attributed to George Rakis, Executive Director for NextGen Competition:

Today, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has taken a significant step in addressing the public’s concerns regarding Big Tech's anti-competitive influence and relationships with Artificial Intelligence start-up companies. This pseudo-merger between Microsoft and OpenAI has played out over years in what appears to be a calculated attempt to evade government antitrust scrutiny.

It has become increasingly apparent that Microsoft's influence within OpenAI is not benign. Microsoft has seamlessly integrated OpenAI's flagship product, ChatGPT, into nearly all its products and services. More concerning are recent developments indicating the consolidation of Microsoft’s influence over OpenAI’s leadership, suggesting a worrisome level of integration between the two companies. Furthermore, Microsoft's rights to OpenAI's intellectual property, including the ChatGPT and DALL-E 3 models, provide Microsoft with unparalleled access to OpenAI’s most valuable assets. We are increasingly troubled by the apparent attempt to mislead regulators, with both entities claiming independence to avoid scrutiny from Federal antitrust regulators.

The corrosive impact of monopoly power poses a threat not only to the integrity and independence of AI research and development but also to the competitive landscape of this critical technology. The concentration of AI development in a few key players, including Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, is detrimental to market competition and poses risks to consumer rights, data privacy, tech workers, and the ethical development of AI technologies.

Given these concerns, we commend the FTC for investigating the relationships between these tech corporations and AI start-ups. An investigation is crucial to ensuring a diverse and competitive AI industry that prioritizes public interest and ethical standards over corporate gain.

About NextGen Competition

Our mission is to support a robust and competitive technology ecosystem by opposing anti-competitive business practices and promoting greater industry accountability. Specifically, we oppose consolidation in the industry that undermines worker protections and employer accountability, threatens data privacy and security, encourages market concentration, and limits consumer choice. NextGen Competition intends to work with a broad coalition of unions and public interest partners as it seeks to oppose anti-competitive business practices.