by Jonathan Wen
In our previous piece which addresses the harms of antitrust regulation enforcement on big tech, I discussed the lack of a need for antitrust regulations and the potential harms on tech startups. However, there are still many other issues with antitrust regulations that were not addressed in the previous installation. This article will specifically discuss how stricter antitrust regulations in the tech industry would harm AI (artificial intelligence) data collection and divert capital in the tech sector away from long term investments into innovative projects.
AI Data Collection
In the development of AI, it is necessary to have access to huge masses of data. Foer of the Atlantic writes in his book, “The [firms that are dominant at developing AI] are the ones that have amassed the most complete portraits of us. They have tracked us most extensively as we travel across the Internet, and they have the computing power required to interpret our travels. This advantage becomes everything, and it compounds over time. Bottomless pools of data are required to create machines that effectively learn—and only these megacorporations have those pools of data.”
He later gives the example of Google, stating that, “no rival to Google will ever be able to match its search results, because no challenger will ever be able to match its historical record of searches or the compilation of patterns it has uncovered.” Unfortunately, the enforcement of antitrust regulations definitionally requires that the megacorporations in the tech sector are dissolved to smaller firms. This would result in access to only smaller and less useful data pools for AI developers.
This hindering of AI data collection is particularly harmful as Sunblad the CEO of Oden Technologies explains that data is the very foundation of AI development. This hindrance of AI development would be particularly impactful as AI is the future of technological innovations due to its immense potential. For example, Ayehu Technologies asserts in 2018 that AI can already produce savings of up to 55% in the IT field due to its significant benefits towards the efficiency of firms.
Diversion of Capital
Historically, one of the clearest impacts of antitrust regulations has been lobbying backlash conducted by the megacorporations being threatened by potential dissolution. For example, Glaser of Slate explains in 2019 that as the threat of stricter antitrust regulation enforcement looms in the coming 2020 election, tech giants have increased their lobbying expenditures.
Paresh of Reuters adds that in 2018, Alphabet (the parent company of Google) spent record amounts on lobbying as antitrust regulations increasingly threaten the tech giants of Silicon Valley. This is key as if antitrust litigation threatens the megacorporations of the tech sector, it would shift the decision-making calculus of these companies away from long-term projects, such as AI or other innovations, and divert capital towards lobbying to reverse or lighten the effects of antitrust regulation enforcement.
Antitrust regulations should not be enforced more strictly, especially in the present-day tech sector. This is because it is unnecessary, on net decreases investment into startups, hinders data collection for AI, and diverts capital away from long term innovative projects. Due to these aforementioned reasons, a stricter enforcement of antitrust regulations in the tech sector would only decrease the amount of innovation which is sorely needed with the expanding plethora of issues faced by modern society.
Jonathan Wen is a Policy Research Fellow at the American Freedom Institute
Featured Image Credit: By Art Young – http://www.marxists.org/subject/art/visual_arts/satire/young/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16142283