UK’s Competition Office Issues Principles for Responsible AI

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority has issued a report featuring seven proposed principles that aim to “ensure consumer protection and healthy competition are at the heart of responsible development and use of foundation models,” or FMs. Ranging from “accountability” and “diversity” to “transparency,” the principles aim to “spur innovation and growth” while implementing social safety measures amidst rapid adoption of apps including OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Microsoft 365 Copilot, Stability AI’s Stable Diffusion. The transformative properties of FMs can “have a significant impact on people, businesses, and the UK economy,” according to the CMA.

The report highlights “how people and businesses stand to benefit if the development and use of FMs works well,” the group said in a news announcement specifying how it plans to foster “new and better products and services, easier access to information, scientific and health breakthroughs, and lower prices.”

Echoing its recent antitrust philosophy, the CMA advisory emphasizes the desire to foster “a wider range of firms to compete successfully and challenge existing market leaders.”

The CMA announced the drafting of principles in May, and with their issuance launches what it intends as another round of stakeholder engagement in the development of responsible AI for the consumers and commercial markets.

As detailed by the CMA, the seven principles are:

  • Accountability: FM developers and deployers are accountable for outputs provided to consumers.
  • Access: ongoing ready access to key inputs, without unnecessary restrictions.
  • Diversity: sustained diversity of business models, including both open and closed.
  • Choice: sufficient choice for businesses so they can decide how to use FMs.
  • Flexibility: having the flexibility to switch and/or use multiple FMs according to need.
  • Fair dealing: no anti-competitive conduct including anti-competitive self-preferencing, tying or bundling.
  • Transparency: consumers and businesses are given information about the risks and limitations of FM-generated content so they can make informed choices.

The principles were issued following a UK government directive to various regulatory bodies to consider the impact of generative AI in their respective areas.

“Down the line,” the CMA might wind up promoting this type of list as best practices “for avoiding competition complaints,” TechCrunch writes, adding that “nothing is set in stone yet, though — with another update on its thinking in this area planned for early 2024.”

Yet to be addressed are “issues like security and data protection,” which TechCrunch says “fall more obviously under the Information Commissioner’s Office — which is also issuing guidance for generative AI developers.”

Inquiries regarding areas where principles are yet to be issued, “the CMA emphasized it will be working with other UK regulators also tasked with paying attention to AI under the government’s plan for developing context-specific guidance — pointing to the Digital Regulatory Cooperation Forum as playing an important role in any relevant joint working,” TechCrunch says.

The CMA’s AI Foundation Models Initial Report offers a deep-dive on the subject.

AI Boom May Not Have Positive Outcome, Warns UK Competition Watchdog, The Guardian, 9/18/23

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