The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the United Kingdom’s regulatory body, has released a comprehensive report accompanied by a set of proposed principles aimed at shaping the future of artificial intelligence (AI) technology.
These principles, outlined in the AI Foundation Models: Initial report, released on Monday, September 18, are designed to govern the development and utilisation of foundation models (FMs), ensuring both consumer protection and a robust competitive landscape in the AI sector.
FMs, which are versatile AI systems with wide-ranging applications, have been rapidly adopted across various industries and user applications such as ChatGPT and Office 365 Co-pilot. Recognising their potential to revolutionise the way we live and work, the CMA has emphasised the importance of responsible FM development and usage.
The CMA’s report underscores the immense benefits that can accrue from the proper development and deployment of FMs. These advantages include the creation of new and improved products and services, enhanced access to information, scientific and medical advancements, and potentially lower consumer prices. A thriving FM ecosystem can pave the way for a diverse range of companies to effectively compete and challenge market incumbents, thereby boosting overall economic productivity and growth.
The CMA report also highlights potential risks and drawbacks. If competition remains weak, or developers disregard consumer protection regulations, individuals and businesses may be exposed to misleading information and AI-driven fraud. In the long term, a few dominant companies could leverage FMs to establish monopolies, leading to suboptimal products and services, and potentially higher prices.
The guiding principles include accountability, access to essential inputs, business model diversity, choice for businesses, flexibility in FM use, fair dealings, and transparency.
Over the coming months, the CMA intends to engage extensively with stakeholders in the UK and internationally to further refine these principles. The goal is to collaboratively foster effective competition and consumer protection, ultimately benefiting individuals, businesses, and the economy.
Sarah Cardell, CEO of the CMA, emphasised the significance of the agency’s proactive role in shaping AI markets. She said, “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.”
The CMA’s principles will not only influence its approach to AI development and use but will also guide its new responsibilities under the Digital Markets, Competition, and Consumer Bill currently undergoing legislative processes in Parliament.