AI and Anti-Competitive Behaviour

In 2001, Netscape sued Microsoft for anti-competitive practices and won. Reason? Because they were using their market share in the PC operating system market to gain an unfair advantage in the browser market by being the only one who could develop for it before release, a pretty textbook case of anti-competitive practices. Just bare this definition in mind: “Using influence in one market to gain an unfair advantage in another market” is an example of anti-competitive practices.

Now on another (related) note, let’s see how the Google’s reCaptcha 3 works. If a site owner wishes to ensure only humans can do a certain action, such as post a message for example, they need to have a verification system in place, but that’s not as easy as it sounds, you could have it just click a button but any old robot can do that. Maybe type in 2 numbers and ask the user to add them together? Easy work for any person trying to break your verification. How about asking for the most similar word to a given word in a list? A computer can easily do that with a database of synonyms. So what does Google use? It uses a database of images of different road-side objects and their names hand-matched by staff at Google and gives an image and fits it onto a grid and asks the user to click on the tiles which contain the object; and this is very hard to break, you’d almost certainly need an AI of immense skill.

Google’s ReCaptcha 3 is a very clever system that is nearly impossible to break. (However breaking the audio version is very easy so not sure how much this helps)

Google’s ReCaptcha 3 is a very clever system that is nearly impossible to break. (However breaking the audio version is very easy so not sure how much this helps)

But what’s even greater is the way that google uses it. Occasionally, they’d throw an image that they don’t know at you and ask you to click the tiles with the object, and this feeds right into their database that they’ll give to someone else.

Sounds fantastic right? You get a more secure verification system that only gets better as time goes on right and its given for free by Google! Well, if you’re a small business, this is not great for you, in fact it’s quite an existential threat. Google uses the data to fuel the AI that understands roads using data from Google Maps and improves it. Google is openly using a market share advantage in the industry for verification systems to unfairly compete with smaller firms in the market (OsmAnd) or even larger corporations that want to enter the market (Apple).

But this is just one example from a sea of practices. How does Google know where traffic is on Google maps? It checks the location of phones on the road frequently and if they are moving slowly there’s a lot of traffic and then they can check where phones are slow to see how big the traffic snake is. How does Amazon improve their voice recognition API which they sell to other business? It uses data collected from Amazon Alexa.