Tess Torelli April 16, 2018

Regulators should review the “potential monopolization of data” by U.S. technology giants in the U.K. that could hamper homegrown development of artificial intelligence (AI), an influential body has recommended.

A committee made up of lawmakers from the House of Lords, the upper house of Britain’s parliament, released a report Monday on the need for the ethical development of AI.

They took written evidence from 223 witnesses and interviewed 57 people during their investigation.

One witness, Professor Richard Susskind, spoke about the “unprecedented concentration of wealth and power in a small number of corporations” such as Alibaba, Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Tencent. The lawmakers said in their report that this was a “view widely held” among a number of witnesses.

The House of Lords committee said that the dominance of large technology firms could hamper development of AI in Britain.

“While we welcome the investments made by large overseas technology companies in the U.K. economy, and the benefits they bring, the increasing consolidation of power and influence by a select few risks damaging the continuation, and development, of the U.K.’s thriving home-grown AI start-up sector,” the report said.

“The monopolization of data demonstrates the need for strong ethical, data protection and competition frameworks in the U.K., and for continued vigilance from the regulators.”

The British lawmakers said that the government and the U.K.’s competition watchdog should “review proactively the use and potential monopolization of data by the big technology companies.”

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