OpenAI’s Helping Hand Prompts Disquieting Questions

NEW YORK 11 Reuters] – Microsoft (MSFT.O) rescued artificial intelligence startup OpenAI Helping last month when it was rocked by the abrupt resignation of CEO Sam Altman. CEO Satya Nadella kept his head above water and eventually prevented most of OpenAI’s employees from leaving. While this has stabilized the company, the power of the tech giants faces a new risk: the application of antitrust laws.

Britain’s main antitrust agency announced Friday that it will investigate whether Microsoft’s partnership with OpenAI is a merger. Bloomberg later reported that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is doing the same, but the commission has not yet launched a formal investigation.

Microsoft invested $13 billion in OpenAI, a for-profit company. The deal was not reported to auditors because the company does not have a majority stake.

Altman will return, the company will continue to operate as before and there appear to be no significant changes in the day-to-day management of OpenAI. However, Microsoft’s role in the matter, with OpenAI Helping employees threatening to take the company under its wing, and its new position on the board of directors, despite not having voting rights, are indicative of its growing influence. When US merger regulators published new antitrust guidelines in July, it was pointed out that minority investment could be a problem. More fundamentally, no AI startup can exist without access to the vast computing resources of tech giants like Microsoft. It remains to be seen whether Trustbuster will be able to counter this power. However, OpenAI Helping advocates may be able to address these concerns by embracing OpenAI more closely. (Contributed by Anita Ramaswami)

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