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UK probes Amazon and Microsoft over AI partnerships with Mistral, Anthropic, and Inflection | TechCrunch

UK probes Amazon and Microsoft over AI partnerships with Mistral, Anthropic, and Inflection | TechCrunch

UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) Starting Initial questions about whether the close ties and hiring practices involving the trio of Microsoft, Amazon and AI startups fall within the scope of its merger rules – and whether the arrangements harm competition in the UK market. can affect

The announcement comes amid growing scrutiny of big tech's M&A approach in the world of AI, where critics say the so-called “Quasi integrationhas emerged as the flavor of the day as a means of bypassing regulatory oversight.

At the same time, governance around so-called “core models” (“foundation” or “frontier” models) has also been on the regulatory agenda in Europe and elsewhere. Foundation models are essentially the infrastructure upon which other AI systems can be built, serving as large-scale models that can be used for various tasks.

The CMA's executive director of integration, Joel Bamford, said it was seeking comments from relevant parties as part of its evidence-gathering, as it assesses whether these various partnerships are in line with the regulatory approach. are tantamount to mergers, and could this affect UK competition. The fast-growing AI industry.

Bamford said in a statement, “Foundation models have the potential to fundamentally affect the way we all live and work, including products and services across many UK sectors – healthcare, energy, transport, Finance and more,” Bamford said in a statement. “So open, fair, and effective competition in the foundation model markets is vital to ensure that the full benefits of this change accrue to people and businesses in the UK, as well as to our wider economy, where growth Technology has a huge role to play and productivity.”

Competition

United Kingdom Already mentioned concerns How to fake around Partnerships involving “major players” in the foundation model space can help protect “incumbent technology firms” (i.e., Big Tech) from competition. While outright acquisitions will undoubtedly attract regulatory scrutiny, partnerships, investments, and “acquisitions” may be a way to avoid that scrutiny — or so the argument goes.

Microsoft investment, and Close partnership withattracted by OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT. A CMA inspection at the end of last year, the regulator launched a formal “invitation to comment” aimed at relevant stakeholders in the AI ​​and business sectors. European Commission (EC) The suit was followed up with a similar investigation in January.

A lot has happened since then, though. Microsoft hired. The core team behind Inflection AIUS-based rival OpenAI had previously invested. And earlier this month, Microsoft Launched a new London AI centre. Exposed by former Inflection and DeepMind scientist Jordan Hoffman.

Elsewhere, Microsoft also recently Invested in Mistral AI.a French AI startup (and Double unicorn) working on basic models.

And then there's Amazon, which Recently completed Its $4 billion investment in Anthropic – another US-based AI company working on large-scale language models;

An Amazon spokesperson called CMA's move to review this type of collaboration “unprecedented,” especially since its partnership with Anthropic doesn't put it on the company's board or even in an observer role. gives – unlike Microsoft, which did. Finally shopping A non-voting “observer” role on OpenAI's board last year. The spokesperson also noted that this is not limiting Anthropic's ability to run models in different clouds.

“By investing in Anthropic, which just released its industry best. New models of Claude 3“We've been helping make the generative AI segment more competitive for the past two years,” the spokesperson said in a statement released to TechCrunch. “And, consumers are very excited about the opportunities this collaboration is providing them. We believe the facts speak for themselves, and hope the CMA agrees to address this soon.”

The CMA's initial invitation to comment runs from today until May 9, a period known as “pre-notification”. This could lead to a formal “Phase 1” review that would directly engage the target companies — in this case, Microsoft and Amazon. The entire Phase 1 review period, if it extends that far, must be completed within 40 days after which it must decide whether the partnerships qualify for a “relevant merger.”

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