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Regulators Look Into Microsoft and Amazon’s AI Partnerships

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British antitrust regulators are scrutinizing partnerships between Microsoft and Amazon with smaller generative artificial intelligence firms. 

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has received feedback from third parties on the recent collaborations between Microsoft and French AI company Mistral and Amazon's investment in the US AI startup Anthropic. 

Additionally, the CMA is examining Microsoft’s recruitment of former staff from another AI firm, Inflection AI. 

Stakeholders are invited to submit their opinions by Thursday, May 9, as part of a preliminary information-gathering step ahead of a potential formal Phase 1 review.

Microsoft's involvement includes a significant €15 million investment in Mistral, established by Meta and Google’s DeepMind ex-employees. 

This deal allows Mistral’s advanced language models to be integrated into Microsoft's Azure cloud computing service.

This marks the second firm after OpenAI to utilize Azure for hosting large language models (LLMs).

Meanwhile, Amazon has invested $4 billion in Anthropic, known for its Claude large language model and related chatbot technology. 

Companies deny any wrongdoing

Amazon said its minority stake and absence of board representation in Anthropic do not constitute an overt control of the startup.

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A Microsoft spokesperson said, “We remain confident that common business practices such as the hiring of talent or making a fractional investment in an AI start-up promote competition and are not the same as a merger.

“We will provide the UK Competition and Markets Authority with the information it needs to complete its inquiries expeditiously.”

An Amazon spokesperson said: “Unlike partnerships between other AI startups and large technology companies, our collaboration with Anthropic includes a limited investment, doesn’t give Amazon a board director or observer role, and continues to have Anthropic running its models on multiple cloud providers.”

CMA scrutiny is part of a broader effort to regulate the influence of large US tech firms in the UK market.

It follows a history of interventions, such as the extended review of Microsoft’s acquisition of gaming giant Activision Blizzard.

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