A former Google AI researcher has been named a senior consultant to the FTC

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Whittaker reportedly faced retaliation from Google for speaking out against the company’s contracts with the Department of Defense. As the report by The Information (via) points out, Whittaker said during her exit that Google holds “significant and largely unchecked power” in the field of AI.  After leaving Google, Whittaker co-founded an institute called AI Now where she serves as the faculty director. Given her experience in the field of AI, Whittaker’s counsel will be crucial for the FTC in prosecuting AI matters.

Meredith Whittaker, a former Google employee, has been hired as the FTC’s senior advisor on artificial intelligence. Whitaker verified the news on her Twitter page. This will considerably help the FTC’s attempts to monitor Big Tech. Whittaker, for those who are unaware, worked as an AI researcher at Google for 13 years until departing in 2019. She quit Google because she disagreed with the company’s AI ethics work.

Highlights

  • The Japanese FTC will interview OS operators, app developers, and even smartphone owners for these investigations. However, Apple appears to be the main focus here as Android has a miserly 30% market share in the region. By comparison, Apple’s iOS enjoys a 70% OS market share in Japan. Separately, the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) fined Google 207.4 billion won ($176 million) for abusing its market power with the Android operating system. The KFTC also ordered Google to stop forcing phone producers to sign anti-fragmentation agreements. To add to Google’s woes, the Korean FTC is also investigating the company for forcing game developers to launch their titles exclusively via the Play Store. Google’s 30% commission on digital sales could also be in the crosshairs of the South Korean regulators.

  • Whittaker will work with FTC Chair Lina M. Khan who is known as a stern advocate for the tightening of regulations against Big Tech. Google hasn’t officially commented on this new development yet. Lina Khan was sworn in as the FTC Chair in June. Previous reports indicate that she is keen on updating merger reporting guidelines. Khan also wants to review the prevalent practice of using non-compete clauses in agreements. Last month, the Japan Fair Trade Commission said it would conduct investigations of companies like Apple and Google. The agency wants to look at whether the two corporations are suppressing competition with their mobile software.

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