CMA launches probe into AI amid emerging risk fears

The UK has launched an investigation into the use and risks that come with artificial intelligence.

The  country’s  Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is opening an initial review of competition and consumer protection considerations in the development and use of AI foundation models.

Foundation models, which include large language models and generative artificial intelligence (AI), that have emerged over the past five years, have the potential to transform much of what people and businesses do.

It comes against a backdrop of an increasing debate over the risks posed by AI amid  concern over the ability of governments and businesses to effectively police its use and restrict he roles it can play.

The CMA explained to ensure that innovation in AI continues in a way that benefits consumers, businesses and the UK economy, the government has asked regulators, including the CMA, to think about how the innovative development and deployment of AI can be supported against five overarching principles: safety, security and robustness; appropriate transparency and explainability; fairness; accountability and governance; and contestability and redress.

Sarah Cardell, Chief Executive of the CMA, said: “AI has burst into the public consciousness over the past few months but has been on our radar for some time. It’s a technology developing at speed and has the potential to transform the way businesses compete as well as drive substantial economic growth.

“It’s crucial that the potential benefits of this transformative technology are readily accessible to UK businesses and consumers while people remain protected from issues like false or misleading information. Our goal is to help this new, rapidly scaling technology develop in ways that ensure open, competitive markets and effective consumer protection.”

The organisation added: “In line with government’s AI white paper and the CMA’s role to support open, competitive markets, the review seeks to understand how foundation models are developing and produce an assessment of the conditions and principles that will best guide the development of foundation models and their use in the future.”

This initial review will:

  • examine how the competitive markets for foundation models and their use could evolve.
  • explore what opportunities and risks these scenarios could bring for competition and consumer protection.
  • produce guiding principles to support competition and protect consumers as AI foundation models develop.

The development of AI touches upon a number of important issues, including safety, security, copyright, privacy, and human rights, as well as the ways markets work said the CMA. Many of these issues are being considered by government or other regulators, so this initial review will focus on the questions the CMA is best placed to address − what are the likely implications of the development of AI foundation models for competition and consumer protection?

The CMA said it will seek views and evidence from stakeholders and will accept responses and submissions by 2 June 2023.

“Following evidence gathering and analysis, the CMA will publish a report which sets out its findings in September 2023,” it added.