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U.S. regulators to open antitrust probes into Nvidia, Microsoft and OpenAI

The Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department will conduct antitrust investigations into Microsoft, OpenAI, and Nvidia to assess their impact on the AI industry, according to a source.

According to the source, the FTC will lead the investigation into Microsoft and OpenAI, while the DOJ will focus on Nvidia. The investigations will focus on the companies’ conduct rather than mergers and acquisitions.

The investigation was first reported by The New York Times.

As startups like OpenAI and Anthropic — the companies behind the ChatGPT and Claude chatbots, respectively — gain traction in the generative AI market, tech behemoths like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Meta have engaged in an AI arms race, racing to integrate the technology to avoid falling behind in a market expected to exceed $1 trillion in revenue within a decade.

Microsoft, for example, initially invested $1 billion in OpenAI in 2019. Since then, its investment has increased to approximately $13 billion. Microsoft relies heavily on OpenAI’s model for its Copilot chatbot and provides open-source models on its Azure cloud.

The large investments are required because AI models are notoriously expensive to build and train, necessitating thousands of specialized chips, the majority of which have been supplied by Nvidia. Meta, which is developing its own model called Llama, is investing billions in Nvidia’s graphics processing units. This is one of many companies that have helped the chipmaker increase revenue by more than 250% year on year.

The announcement of the upcoming antitrust investigation comes just days after a group of current and former OpenAI employees published an open letter on Tuesday, expressing concerns about the AI industry’s rapid advancement despite a lack of oversight and whistleblower protections for those who want to speak up.

“AI companies have strong financial incentives to avoid effective oversight, and we do not believe bespoke corporate governance structures are sufficient to change this,” the employees wrote, adding that the companies “currently have only weak obligations to share some of this information with governments, but none with civil society.” We do not believe they can all be counted on to share it voluntarily.”

The news follows the FTC’s January decision to conduct a comprehensive study on major AI companies such as Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft, Anthropic, and OpenAI.

FTC Chair Lina Khan announced the inquiry in January at the agency’s AI technology summit, describing it as a “market inquiry into the investments and partnerships being formed between AI developers and major cloud service providers.”

By using its authority to conduct a so-called 6(b) study — named after Section 6(b) of the FTC Act — the regulator can investigate AI companies independently of its law enforcement arm and make civil investigative demands. For example, the agency can require businesses to file specific reports and provide written responses to questions about their operations.

“At the FTC, the rapid development and deployment of AI is informing our work across the agency,” Khan stated at the time. “There’s no AI exemption from the laws on the books, and we’re looking closely at the ways companies may be using their power to thwart competition or trick the public.”

OpenAI did not respond to a request for comment. Microsoft and NVIDIA declined to comment.



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