Antitrust Enforcers Racing To Understand AI Impact On Market Competition


Antitrust enforcers on both sides of the Atlantic are facing a significant challenge in understanding and addressing the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on market competition. At a recent conference in Brussels, top US competition law enforcers emphasized the need for “extraordinary vigilance” and a clear focus on understanding how the market operates in the age of AI.

Key Takeaway

Antitrust enforcers in the US and EU are grappling with the complexities of regulating AI and its impact on market competition. The need for proactive vigilance and a deep understanding of AI’s economic properties is crucial to shaping effective regulatory policies.

US Enforcers’ Perspective on AI

FTC chair Lina Khan highlighted the expansion and adoption of AI tools as a key opportunity for the agency to apply the lessons learned from past regulatory oversights. She stressed the importance of proactively shaping the rules of the game, rather than reacting to market consolidation after the fact. Similarly, the US Department of Justice’s antitrust division expressed a commitment to understanding and demystifying AI, emphasizing the need to enforce the law in this critical space.

European Union’s Approach to Big Tech and AI

On the European side, antitrust enforcers expressed hesitancy in responding to the rise of generative AI, particularly in the context of the bloc’s new ex ante regime for digital gatekeepers. The conference also raised questions about the EU’s evolving stance on Big Tech mergers and acquisitions, with recent examples such as Amazon’s abandoned attempt to acquire iRobot.

Challenges and Opportunities in Regulating AI

Both US and EU enforcers acknowledged the complexity of regulating AI and its potential to either open up or close off markets. They emphasized the need for a holistic approach to understanding the economic properties of AI and identifying emerging bottlenecks. Additionally, the conference shed light on the challenges of addressing AI-powered market abuse by tech giants and the implications for consumer protection and privacy.

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