The UK has announced a new set of principles to govern artificial intelligence (AI) models and ensure that competition remains healthy. 

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Britain’s antitrust watchdog, said on Monday that there is a “real risk” that the technology could undermine consumer trust and remain dominated by a few players in the market.

The regulator outlined seven principles which it says aims to regulate emerging foundation models, like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, by keeping developers and Big Tech accountable. 

As well as this, the principles focus on stopping Big Tech from restricting access to key features in their platforms and will prevent unfair dealings like bundling.

“There remains a real risk that the use of AI develops in a way that undermines consumer trust or is dominated by a few players who exert market power that prevents the full benefits being felt across the economy,” said Sarah Cardell, CEO of the CMA.

The UK’s seven AI principles:

  • Accountability – FM developers and deployers are accountable for outputs provided to consumers.
  • Access – ongoing ready access to key inputs, without unnecessary restrictions.
  • Diversity – sustained diversity of business models, including both open and closed.
  • Choice – sufficient choice for businesses so they can decide how to use FMs.
  • Flexibility – having the flexibility to switch and/or use multiple FMs according to need.
  • Fair dealing – no anti-competitive conduct including anti-competitive self-preferencing, tying or bundling.
  • Transparency – consumers and businesses are given information about the risks and limitations of FM-generated content so they can make informed choices.

Over the upcoming months, the UK watchdog said it will undertake a “significant programme of engagement” with key companies at the forefront of AI. 

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The CMA will be speaking to the likes of Google, OpenAI and Microsoft to develop the principles further and “support the positive development of these critical markets in ways that foster effective competition and consumer protection for the benefit of, people, businesses, and the economy.”

“The principles contained in the report are necessarily broad and it will be intriguing to see how the CMA seeks to regulate the market to ensure that competition concerns are addressed,” Gareth Mills, partner at City law firm Charles Russell Speechlys, told Verdict.

“The principles themselves are clearly aimed at facilitating a dynamic sector with low entry requirements that allows smaller players to compete effectively with more established names, whilst at the same time mitigating against the potential for AI technologies to have adverse consequences for consumers,” Mills added. 

The move from the CMA comes as the UK and countries around the world scramble to get ahead in regulating AI. 

The UK has made the emerging technology a priority, as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed the desire to make the country “the geographical home of global AI safety regulation.”

In March, the UK announced it would be splitting regulatory power over AI between the CMA and other human rights bodies – instead of creating a separate body of power.