The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has initiated an investigation into the lucrative collaborations between major Big Tech cloud providers and generative AI firms, such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft, OpenAI, and Anthropic.

The FTC’s move comes as concerns mount over the rapid infusion of funds by Big Tech companies into the development of AI tools and the subsequent impact on the future trajectory of the sector.

The regulator is interested in comprehending the dynamics of partnerships, including decision-making processes regarding new product releases, governance, and oversight rights.

One of the most prominent collaborations under scrutiny is Microsoft’s high-profile $13bn investment in OpenAI. Despite its visibility, this partnership has faced criticism for its lack of transparency regarding its structural intricacies.

Both Amazon and Google have committed substantial investments in Anthropic, a rival to OpenAI.

The cloud providers, including Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, have become pivotal players in the generative AI landscape, given their substantial financial and computing resources crucial for the technology’s development.

These collaborations often involve AI start-ups using the cloud providers’ infrastructure, such as clouds or AI chips.

Under the order, the involved companies, namely Amazon, Google, Microsoft, OpenAI, and Anthropic, have 45 days to respond to the FTC’s information requests. The investigation also reflects global concerns, with both the UK and EU competition regulators examining Microsoft’s investment in OpenAI.

Following the UK regulator’s announcement of an inquiry, OpenAI subtly modified its description of the Microsoft partnership on its website. Previously referring to Microsoft as a “minority owner.”

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By GlobalData