The recent White House meeting on competition policy and artificial intelligence, convened by Lael Brainard, assistant to the president and national economic adviser, marked a significant step in addressing the entanglement of AI with economic and competition policies. The meeting brought together a diverse group of stakeholders to discuss the administration’s approach to AI, emphasizing its role in creating a fair, open and competitive market.
At the center of the discussion were the risks of market concentration in the AI ecosystem, which spans a range of critical components such as semiconductors, computing power, cloud storage, talent and data. High levels of concentration in these areas raise concerns about market fairness and affordability, particularly for small businesses and new entrants. The meeting also highlighted the potential of open source models and custom AI applications to change the competitive landscape.
Participants also expressed concern about possible collusion in the industry and stressed the importance of careful consideration of partnerships and investments. Lack of competition in AI can lead to adverse outcomes such as inflated prices, reduced quality, stifling of innovation and compromised privacy. In addition, the rise of AI poses new challenges to competition law and policy, potentially exacerbating issues such as price-fixing and self-preference.
The administration, under the leadership of Biden-Harris, is committed to promoting competition and innovation as central components of its AI policy. This commitment is evident in President Biden’s executive order, which mandates the promotion of competition in the field of artificial intelligence and related technologies. The order also focuses on supporting small businesses in commercializing AI products and directs a National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource pilot project to provide essential resources such as computing power and data to AI researchers and smaller companies.
Attendees at the meeting included representatives from various White House councils and federal agencies, such as the National Economic Council, the National Security Council, the Domestic Policy Council, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Council of Economic Advisers, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Fair Trade . External participants represented a variety of organizations, including the American Economic Liberties Project, the Tech Oversight Project, the Economic Security Project, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the AI Now Institute, the Open Markets Institute, and several universities and law schools.
This meeting underscores the Administration’s proactive stance in shaping AI policy that benefits a broader spectrum of the economy and society. It also highlights the role of government in guiding AI development towards ethical, fair and competitive practices.
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