opinion | The Google Antitrust trial is really about the future of AI

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Or consider IBM’s monopoly on mainframe computing, which was challenged by private and public antitrust suits in the 1960s and ’70s. At the time, the main concern was the use of “waferware” tactics in the mainframe market, which affected a now-long-dead company called Control Data Corporation. But what’s important today is that IBM, fearing it would go broke, unbundled its software from its hardware, which created a market for software sold as a separate product – over time, which has now become multi-trillion. dollar industry. The suit also weakened IBM as the personal computer emerged, benefiting smaller upstarts like Apple and Microsoft.

As this history suggests, we’re unlikely to know what new forms of calculation will yield results against Google. The path of technological evolution cannot be predicted. But we know that monopolies stifle innovation and keep too much to themselves, and forcing monopolies to retreat pays off.

Google’s own creation story is another good example. Google began as a small start-up with a great product, but it was also the beneficiary of federal government intervention. Google began its operations relying on Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser, which had an estimated 95 percent market share in the early 2000s. And Microsoft was running its own search engine on top of Internet Explorer, then called MSN Search (later renamed Bing). Fortunately for Google, Microsoft had just been put through the ringer by the Justice Department, whose antitrust lawsuit nearly broke the company. In the end, Google beat Bing in part because it had a better product — but it wasn’t facing the nasty Microsoft of the 1990s, but a weak and disciplined Microsoft operating under federal oversight.

Today Google has an interest in and risk for large language model technologies from companies like OpenAI, which developed ChatGPT. Google has spent billions of dollars on AI research, including developing its own chatbot, Bard, and recently rushing to incorporate dozens of AI features into its products. But as a giant, Google needs to protect its existing revenue streams and keep its investors, customers and advertisers happy. He has a strong incentive to ensure that AI doesn’t become something that disrupts or destroys existing businesses.

In a lawsuit in Washington last week, the plaintiffs (which include the federal and state governments) explained that Google has used its money and power to stifle competition over the past decade, paying billions of dollars to companies like Apple and Samsung to build Google. Default search setting for their phone. Apple also agreed to stay out of Google’s business: handling search queries.

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