Canada: Competition Bureau seeks comments on the effects of artificial intelligence on competition

In short

The Canadian Levels of competition Bureau (“Bureau“) has introduced a substantial initiative to check out the impacts of artificial intelligence (“AI“) on competitors in Canada. On 20 March 2024, the Bureau released a dialogue paper, entitled “Synthetic intelligence and competitors” (“Dialogue Paper“), and has asked for responses from the community. The Bureau is in search of to much better recognize how AI can have an impact on levels of competition in Canada. It is also trying to get to identify how it can improved get ready to handle possible competitive hurt from AI, and also endorse opposition in AI markets. The outcome of the session could have important implications for the two organizations that develop and all those that use AI systems. Submissions are owing by 4 Might 2024.


AI is affecting several sectors of the economic system and is increasingly getting embraced by Canadian enterprises and Canadian shoppers alike.

Recognizing that it is vital to understand and tackle the implications of AI, the Bureau issued the Discussion Paper with the aim of fostering thoughtful and knowledgeable nationwide dialogue in buy to help the Bureau deepen its knowing of how opposition is developing in AI marketplaces, and how the Bureau can enforce and encourage competition in these marketplaces.

The Dialogue Paper provides an overarching definition for the expression “AI” and clarifies the distinct systems that make up AI (Portion 1). It also describes the a variety of marketplaces that are concerned in the development of an AI merchandise or services (Portion 2), together with marketplaces for AI infrastructure, markets for AI advancement, and markets for AI deployment.

The Dialogue Paper then explores several factors for how AI can influence competition, particularly in the context of the Bureau’s enforcement spots, these kinds of as (i) mergers and monopolistic methods, (ii) cartels, and (iii) misleading promoting methods (Area 3).

Pertaining to mergers and monopolistic tactics, the Bureau’s mandate incorporates investigating and acting when it discovers abuses of sector electricity or mergers that are probably to substantially lessen or stop opposition. Sure characteristics of AI markets can have interaction these problems. A couple of of the issues discovered in the Dialogue Paper are famous beneath:

  • Boundaries to Entry. The Bureau observed that participation in AI enhancement markets heavily depends on the capacity of parties to obtain data and “compute inputs” (e.g., AI chips and cloud services) and, as a consequence, troubles in accessing these important inputs can provide as a barrier to entry for new corporations. Even though community info is presently remarkably widespread, the Bureau famous that the worry will grow to be especially pronounced if and when proprietary details turns into a important enter in order to take part in AI markets. To this conclusion, the Bureau remarked that significant technology firms currently have access to considerable quantities of proprietary data that is acceptable for AI enhancement (which has been collected from small business activities in other markets that they consider component in), that may perhaps give them with a competitive edge.

The Bureau even more noted that new entrants may facial area other barriers to entry, like the higher focus of several dominant technologies companies in the cloud computing and AI chip markets large upfront fees of compute inputs and the latest shortage of graphics processing models (GPUs) used for AI.

  • Economies of Scope and Scale. The Bureau also observed that there are significant upfront charges involved with AI progress marketplaces and that big technological innovation companies may well have a aggressive gain in acquiring economies of scale because of to existing in-house resources (including human skills and computing). It mentioned that this could produce complications for new marketplace members (lots of of whom do not have related methods) from entering the market place or competing correctly.
  • Predatory, Exclusionary, and Discriminatory Perform. The Bureau also expressed problem that functions could use AI to engage in predatory, exclusionary, or discriminatory perform. Predatory perform can arise when a firm incurs shorter-term losses to do away with a competitor and obtain marketplace ability. By making use of AI, for instance, the Bureau speculated that a business could interact in this kind of carry out by using the engineering to establish “at-risk” consumers who may swap and give them with focused under-charge price cuts. AI marketplaces could also be employed to have interaction in exclusionary carry out, by blocking one more agency from working in the marketplace, notably owing to the great importance of vertical relationships in this sort of marketplaces. The Bureau mentioned that vertically integrated corporations could supply an essential enter for participation in AI marketplaces (e.g., knowledge, compute, and AI styles), even though also competing in the exact same downstream markets as the corporations that they source, which can guide to exclusionary perform issues. AI could also autonomously interact in discriminatory perform, which the Bureau pointed out highlights the require to ensure appropriate human oversight.
  • Merger Criteria. The Bureau even further observed that particular qualities of AI markets can make new signifies for firms to acquire marketplace electric power by means of mergers. As these types of, the Bureau observed that mergers in the AI area, of any sort, that involve a agency that materials compute inputs (these kinds of as AI chips and cloud services) could warrant supplemental scrutiny due to the existing significant levels of concentration in these markets. The Bureau advised that mergers in AI markets could also need extra scrutiny provided that large set up corporations may possibly seek to acquire emerging opponents as a suggests of preventing or lessening competition.

Concerning cartels, which are formed when two or much more firms concur to take care of prices, allocate marketplaces, or limit supply, the Bureau highlighted a number of problems that arise in AI marketplaces, like the next:

  • The Facilitation of Cartel Behaviour. The Bureau determined the possibility that AI could be utilized to apply or sustain cartel agreements. For case in point, as explored in the Dialogue Paper, corporations could use AI to instantly employ agreed-upon charges, or connect with cartel members, or punish users who deviate from a cartel settlement. AI could also be utilised to improve industry transparency and improve the frequency of interactions among opponents, which the Bureau indicated are two marketplace disorders typically associated with a better capability and incentive for cartels to kind and run. The Bureau further more mentioned that if various rivals obtain and use the exact AI technological know-how from a third-celebration provider, “hub-and-spoke” preparations can variety where a supplier of AI can leverage the technological innovation in buy to facilitate a cartel amongst competition it materials to. The Bureau observed that there is also greater research and discussion close to the risk of AI to deliver “tacit algorithmic collusion”, in which AI that is utilized by horizontal opponents may perhaps autonomously learn and put into practice coordinated tactics, equivalent to what may be applied by an express cartel.

Regarding misleading marketing and advertising tactics, the Bureau highlighted the worth of consumers receiving truthful information and facts in purchase to help them make educated shopping for decisions, and specific troubles that could arise with AI, such as:

  • The Scaling Up of Deceptive Advertising and marketing Methods. The Bureau expressed problem that the automatic nature of AI, and new developments in generative AI, could likely be exploited by get-togethers to interact in specific sorts of deceptive advertising perform. For instance, AI can automate and scale selected perform, these types of as misleading telemarketing or prize notifications, or make misleading advertising much more “convincing” (e.g., by “deepfake” (digitally altered) voices, photos, or movies). To this close, in March 2024, the Bureau addressed the rise of fraud and the use of AI in order to help get-togethers make their frauds a lot more convincing, which includes through the use of chatbots that distribute phony critiques and voice cloning.

In conclusion, the Bureau is seeking feed-back on the earlier mentioned troubles and on a amount of subtopics in each individual of these spots, which includes any supplemental systems that the Bureau should take into consideration in buy to advance its comprehending of AI, the attributes of AI marketplaces in Canada, and regardless of whether there are any other elements that can affect competitiveness in the AI sector.

Our staff is in this article to aid corporations that are involved in or that are impacted by AI and desire to deliver comments in reaction to the Bureau’s session and will also be checking and reporting on the end result. For much more info, please contact Arlan Gates and Usman Sheikh

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