Artificial intelligence has the potential to change every industry and businesses are racing to harness those capabilities for the benefit of their users (and shareholders). Some are forming new partnerships to share knowledge and experience, allowing them to develop new services even more quickly.

Which is why Microsoft and Meta (the parent company of Instagram and Facebook) have announced they will be working on AI project together in future.

It’s all about the data

As two of the ‘Big 6’ tech companies, Microsoft and Meta have the budget and experience to revolutionize the internet. Working together, they will create a new ecosystem that seamlessly integrates products and services to suit the specific needs of their customers.

So why are these two tech giants working together? The answer is simple – data. With more than 3 billion active users, these companies have access to enormous amounts of information collected from each person. And this data is the power behind artificial intelligence, particularly during the ‘machine learning’ phase.

This phase is when the AI algorithm is being taught how to respond to different inputs.

Gaining an edge or cornering the market?

The more data available for training, the more ‘intelligent’ an AI model becomes. By working together, Microsoft and Meta can build extremely accurate, personalized models more quickly than their competitors.

This should be excellent news for users right? Not quite. When two enormous companies like Meta and Facebook join forces, it tends to squeeze many smaller players out of the market. If this happens, users actually lose out because innovation is stifled.

Consider how many social networks have been released since Facebook but which have failed to gain any traction despite offering (arguably) better features – WeMe, Google+, ello…

So Meta and Microsoft may simply be working together to create exciting new AI-powered products – or they may be taking early steps that will allow them to corner the market in the future.

An AI regulation we actually need?

Most governments are currently obsessed with impossible doomsday scenarios caused by out-of-control AI algorithms.

Some believe that AI has the potential to destroy the world. And because of that, are busy trying to create new laws to prevent it.

But while they are focusing on the nonsensical, moves by big tech companies to consolidate power through AI are of far greater threat to citizens. Left unchecked, we could easily see an increase in power inequalities – or even the creation of new ones.

By regulating AI development to ensure greater transparency, governments can ensure that artificial intelligence helps society, rather than threatens.

One more thing…

The Meta-Microsoft partnership also raises questions surrounding user privacy. It remains to be seen how the companies will be able to share data and respect user privacy, particularly in relation to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.

How will both companies ensure they are only using personal information for the purposes agreed by their users? Perhaps this is another factor that AI regulators should consider with some urgency…