UK Competition and Markets Authority to Examine AI's Impact on Economy and Consumers


The United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has set its sights on artificial intelligence (AI) with a comprehensive examination of the technology’s impact on consumers and the economy. The regulator aims to scrutinize the development and deployment of foundation models, including prominent applications like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, against key principles such as safety, transparency, fairness, and accountability. This examination comes at a critical juncture as AI continues to rapidly evolve and holds the potential to drive substantial economic growth.

Sarah Cardell, CEO of the CMA, acknowledged that AI is a rapidly developing technology with the power to reshape business competition and foster economic growth. It is crucial for businesses and consumers in the UK to have access to the potential benefits of AI technologies while being protected from misinformation and AI-generated fakes that have already infiltrated the web, leading to legal consequences. The CMA’s examination aims to strike a balance between fostering open, competitive markets and ensuring effective consumer protection.

The initial review conducted by the CMA will closely examine the competitive market for AI foundation models and their usage. Regulators will monitor the expansion of these models and assess the opportunities they present, as well as the risks they pose to competition and consumers. The overarching goal is to guide the development of AI in ways that support open, competitive markets and provide effective consumer protection.

As part of the examination, the CMA plans to establish “guiding principles” that will safeguard consumers and promote healthy competition as AI technologies continue to evolve. These principles will serve as a framework to protect the interests of consumers while fostering innovation and competition in the AI landscape. The findings and the guiding principles developed through this examination are scheduled to be published in September 2023.

The CMA’s examination aligns with the UK government’s focus on AI. In April 2023, the prime minister and technology secretary announced a funding commitment of £100 million ($124.8 million) to support a task force dedicated to accelerating the country’s readiness in AI. This initiative reflects the government’s recognition of the importance of AI as a driver of economic growth and innovation.

The UK Competition and Markets Authority’s examination of AI’s impact on the economy and consumers signifies a proactive approach to regulation in the rapidly evolving AI landscape. By analyzing the development and deployment of foundation models and establishing guiding principles, the CMA aims to ensure that AI technologies foster open, competitive markets while providing effective consumer protection. As the findings are published in September 2023, stakeholders and the public will gain valuable insights into the UK’s commitment to responsibly harnessing the potential of AI for the benefit of all.


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