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AI octopus flexes its tentacles to entrench Big Tech’s hegemony
By Eric Posner  |  Feb 19, 2024
AI octopus flexes its tentacles to entrench Big Tech’s hegemony
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No end looms in sight to Big Tech companies’ chokehold on the digital economy, and AI’s steady rise bids fair to buttress this trend based on these corporate leviathans’ access to data and knowledge of consumer and business behavior, argues author and Law Prof Eric Posner.

CHICAGO - With long-gestating antitrust cases against Google, Apple, and Amazon reaching fruition, many pundits think 2024 may be a turning point for Big Tech. Yet even as authorities press ahead with this litigation, they risk being blindsided by the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), which is more likely to reinforce Big Tech’s dominance of the economy, rather than the converse.

Many read the recent firing and rehiring of OpenAI Chief Executive Officer Sam Altman as a conflict between cautious board members worried over the risks of AI, and enthusiasts like Altman. The real significance of this episode, however, was its revelation of OpenAI’s relationship with the largest investor in its commercial operations - Microsoft. OpenAI’s nonprofit structure nominally puts it only under control of its board, which was forced to restore Altman after Microsoft’s expressed misgivings had instigated an employee revolt.

Microsoft is not just an investor in OpenAI - it is also a competitor. Both develop and sell AI products, though Microsoft stopped short of acquiring OpenAI to avert antitrust problems. This might not be enough, however - if Microsoft holds even partial control over OpenAI, the two companies may have an illegal collusive relationship. That is why the United States Federal Trade Commission and the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority are both investigating the matter.

The OpenAI-Microsoft relations are only a small part of a rapidly growing AI oligopoly. As a recent paper by two law professors - Tejas Narecha

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