Microsoft and NVIDIA are under the US watchdog’s lens over their influential roles in the burgeoning artificial intelligence (AI) industry, reported Bloomberg, citing sources.  

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Justice Department (DoJ) are set to conduct antitrust investigations into these companies’ AI-related activities, they said.  

Microsoft has invested over $13bn in a partnership with OpenAI, integrating the latter’s generative AI technology into its Bing search service, Edge browser, and Windows platform.  

Meanwhile, Nvidia, a top chipmaker, has been allocating its chips selectively, sparking concerns over its market control in AI semiconductors. 

According to the sources, the FTC and DoJ have recently agreed to split oversight of the AI domain, with the FTC examining Microsoft’s OpenAI partnership and the DoJ probing Nvidia’s chip dominance. 

The DoJ will also maintain its watch over Google

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After over six months of discussions, this agreement enables each agency to launch probes into the companies’ conduct and recent transactions.  

The FTC is additionally probing Microsoft’s deal with Inflection AI, where the software giant licensed AI software for $650m and absorbed much of Inflection’s workforce. 

A Microsoft spokesperson stated that the FTC has not reached out regarding OpenAI.  

About Inflection AI, Microsoft said: “Our agreements with Inflection gave us the opportunity to recruit individuals at Inflection AI and build a team capable of accelerating Microsoft Copilot, while enabling Inflection to continue pursuing its independent business and ambition as an AI studio. We take our legal obligations to report transactions seriously and are confident that we have complied with those obligations.” 

The DoJ, FTC, OpenAI, Google, and Nvidia declined to comment on the news, the publication said.  

Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter and FTC Chair Lina Khan recently negotiated the deal, meeting alongside a Washington conference.  

Early in June 2024, the DoJ hosted a public workshop on AI competition at Stanford University, highlighting the chip scarcity’s impact on the industry, with Nvidia’s chip allocation practices coming under scrutiny. 

Tesla founder Elon Musk mentioned redirecting Nvidia chips from Tesla to his other ventures due to storage constraints.  

Nvidia has admitted to selectively supplying chips citing that it is a method to prevent data centre operators from hoarding chips. 

While the European Union and the UK’s competition watchdog have considered Microsoft’s AI investments, they have not initiated formal investigations.