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UK competition regulator proposes guiding principles to make AI market safe

The Competition and Markets Authority has released a report saying the AI market could boost the economy if guided responsibly.

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Chat GPT

The expanding artificial intelligence (AI) market, including chatbots such as ChatGPT, can help boost productivity and economic growth across the UK if developed responsibly, the competition watchdog has said.

In a new report, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has set out a list of guiding principles for the AI market to ensure consumers are protected.

They include ensuring the AI developers are accountable for their output, while access to services, diversity within the market, choice and flexibility are also key focuses alongside a push for fair dealing and transparency.

The CMA’s report comes amid growing concerns over the rapid development of generative AI – accessible technology that can create text, images and video barely distinguishable from humans’ output.

Regulators worldwide are stepping up their scrutiny of AI, given its explosion into general use worldwide and fears over its impact on jobs, industry, copyright, the education sector and privacy – among many other areas.

In its report, the CMA said competitive, responsible AI markets could see the creation of new and better products and services, as well as easier access to information, scientific and health breakthroughs and lower prices.

But the watchdog warned that if competition is weak or developers fail to adhere to consumer protection law, people and businesses could be harmed through exposure to significant levels of misinformation and AI-enabled fraud.

It also said that without proper principles, a handful of companies could use AI to gain or entrench positions of market power.

Sarah Cardell, CMA chief executive, said: “The speed at which AI is becoming part of everyday life for people and businesses is dramatic. There is real potential for this technology to turbo charge productivity and make millions of everyday tasks easier – but we can’t take a positive future for granted.

“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.

“The CMA’s role is to help shape these markets in ways that foster strong competition and effective consumer protection, delivering the best outcomes for people and businesses across the UK.

“In rapidly developing markets like these, it’s critical we put ourselves at the forefront of that thinking, rather than waiting for problems to emerge and only then stepping in with corrective measures.

“That’s why we have today proposed these new principles and launched a broad programme of engagement to help ensure the development and use of foundation models evolves in a way that promotes competition and protects consumers.

“While I hope that our collaborative approach will help realise the maximum potential of this new technology, we are ready to intervene where necessary.”

As part of its engagement programme, the CMA said it will begin discussions with AI stakeholders in the UK and globally around developing its principles further and working with those groups on developing AI markets further.

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