Microsoft Federal Trade Commission Artificial Intelligence

Weekly AI Recap: Federal regulators prepare to investigate OpenAI, Microsoft and Nvidia


By Webb Wright, NY Reporter

June 7, 2024 | 6 min read

Also, Nvidia becomes the second-most-valuable company in the world.

US Department of Justice

The Department of Justice will spearhead an antitrust investigation into American chipmaker Nvidia. / Adobe Stock

DoJ and FTC poised to launch antitrust investigations into leading AI companies

Federal officials have reached an agreement outlining how they will proceed with antitrust investigations into three of the biggest players in the burgeoning AI industry, according to a Wednesday report from The New York Times.

Citing anonymous sources close to the deal, the report states that the Department of Justice (DoJ) will proceed to investigate Nvidia for potential antitrust violations, while the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will do the same for OpenAI and its primary investor, Microsoft.

Politico first reported in January that the two agencies had begun to deliberate about a potential investigation into the OpenAI-Microsoft partnership, though it wasn’t clear at the time which of them would lead the effort.

FTC chair Lina Kahn has spoken openly about her intention to bring her agency’s resources to bear on the rapidly expanding AI industry. “The first thing we need to do is be clear-eyed that there’s no ‘AI exemption’ from the laws on the books,” she said during an appearance on The Daily Show in April.

Nvidia surpasses Apple as world’s second-most-valuable company

Nvidia’s market capitalization inched past Apple’s on Wednesday – to about $3.01tn compared to $3tn, respectively – establishing its position as the second most valuable company in the world, after Microsoft.

In May, Nvidia announced a stunning net income of almost $15bn for the first quarter of this year, the latest chapter in an ongoing growth surge fueled by big tech company’s race to build generative AI tools using Nvidia’s graphics processing units, or GPUs. The company announced after the end of the final quarter of last year that its earnings had soared 265% year-over-year.

OpenAI and Google insiders call for measures to warn public of AI risk

On Tuesday, a cohort of AI researchers with ties to OpenAI and Google DeepMind – two companies at the vanguard of the race to build artificial general intelligence, or AGI – published an open letter calling for greater transparency and safety protocols in the industry.

The authors of the letter argued that while AI could unlock enormous benefits for humanity, it could also, without proper guardrails, lead to its destruction. They also made the case that in the absence of government regulation, AI companies could not be trusted to be fully transparent about the dangers posed by the technology they’re building. Individual whistleblowers, they argued, must, therefore, be protected as a vital safeguard as the AI industry continues to roll out increasingly powerful systems.

“So long as there is no effective government oversight of these corporations, current and former employees are among the few people who can hold them accountable to the public,” the letter reads.

In addition to its thirteen official signatories – some of whom are current employees of OpenAI and opted to remain anonymous – the letter was also endorsed by three leading lights in the field of AI: Yoshua Bengio, Geoffrey Hinton and Stuart Russell.

Musk diverts Tesla-bound GPUs to X and xAI

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk instructed Nvidia to divert thousands of GPUs originally intended for Tesla, a public company, to his privately-owned companies X (formerly Twitter) and xAI, according to a CNBC report published Tuesday.

Tesla shares dropped by around 1% following the report, according to CNBC.

Musk responded to the report on X denying that he had prioritized the Nvidia GPUs for his privately held companies, claiming that Tesla did not have anywhere to store the chips. The company’s Texas Gigafactory is currently working on an expansion which will eventually house the chips, he wrote. In the meantime, “they would have just sat in a warehouse.“

In a separate X post, he called the author of the Tuesday CNBC report a “liar.”

Perplexity releases its first ad

Perplexity, the AI-powered search engine that’s caught the attention of high-profile investors like Jeff Bezos, released its first-ever TV spot on Thursday.

The ad takes the form of a trailer for a feature film, titled The Know-It-Alls, which is depicted as an Ocean’s Eleven-esque action-comedy about a motley band of brainiacs who assemble to build a sustainable source of energy using Perplexity.

The trailer includes a brief disclaimer at the end: “This film is not (yet) real.” According to Perplexity’s chief business officer Dmitry Shevelenko, the company is currently in talks with Hollywood film studios to develop the trailer into an actual feature film.

“I guess life imitates art, because while it wasn’t our initial intention, we had so much fun telling this story that we later realized that we could turn this into a full-length film or TV series,“ Shevelenko told The Drum. “We’re now in conversations with two major studios about buying the rights to The Know-It-Alls IP.“

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