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Microsoft and Apple back away from OpenAI board amid regulator scrutiny

With potential antitrust concerns hovering around OpenAI, the two tech companies are cutting bait before the FTC and CMA turn attention towards them.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

July 10, 2024

2 Min Read
Logo for tech company Microsoft.
Image via Microsoft.

As OpenAI is getting more focus from regulators like the FTC, Microsoft and Apple are both distancing themselves from the ChatGPT maker.

Per Ars Technica, both tech giants have elected not to join OpenAI's board after previously signing their allegiance. The former accepted an observer role in November 2023 as Sam Altman was ousted (and returned) from OpenAI.

Notably, this comes almost a full year after the FTC launched its investigation into the generative AI company. At the time, it believed ChatGPT potentially violated consumer protection laws and harmed consumers.

The exit of both companies means OpenAI no longer has any observers on the board. On Microsoft and Apple's side, this absolves them of any potential (and further) antitrust attention from regulators.

In a letter obtained by Axios, Microsoft said this move was effective immediately. Given the "significant progress" of OpenAI's new board, the Xbox maker "no longer believe our limited role as an observer is necessary."

As for Apple, it announced a partnership with OpenAI in June, promising iPhone and Mac users could use Siri to query the latter's ChatGPT product. In exchange, Apple executive Phil Schiller was reportedly promised an observer role similar to Microsoft.

While the two companies have left their observer roles, an OpenAI representative told The Verge affirmed it would still work with Microsoft and Apple. OpenAI plans to hold "regular stakeholder meetings to share progress on our mission and ensure stronger collaboration across safety and security.”

Will generative AI survive regulators?

Previously, Microsoft talked about its plans to integrate genAI into its ecosystem. Along with design tools powered by the technology for its game studios, the company Copilot AI program will be integrated into its Xbox and PC games, like an always-on strategy guide.

Generative AI has faced plenty of criticism from creative workers in fields like writing and art over the past year. But attention has also been given to its environmental damage and how much energy it takes out of data centers.

But as the FTC and CMA begin cracking down on the technology, companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Google have yet to fully back off from it. Search features and chatbots powered by genAI are still active at time writing, and it may be that they remain until genuine government regulation dictate actual rules surrounding it.

Read more about:

Generative AI

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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