Competition agency representatives from the Group of Seven industrialized nations agreed Wednesday to strengthen cooperation in promoting fair market practices in cutting-edge technology like generative artificial intelligence and online virtual spaces.

In a communique issued following a meeting in Tokyo, the agencies pledged to continue to share legal and regulatory developments in digital markets in an effort to protect competition in each of their economies.

The gathering comes at a critical time when emerging technologies like generative AI run the risk of being dominated by a few key players, potentially creating an environment that stifles competition.

Kazuyuki Furuya (R), chair of the Japan Fair Trade Commission, attends a meeting of competition agency representatives from the Group of Seven industrialized nations in Tokyo on Nov. 8, 2023. (Kyodo)

In recent years, the smartphone sector has seen market dominance by technology giants like Google LLC and Apple Inc., prompting many countries to revise regulations. Japan is also currently drafting new legislation to prohibit the monopolization of app store operations.

Businesses developing or using new technologies like generative AI technology -- which can utilize vast amounts of data from the internet and other sources to generate text, images, or other media in a human-like way -- are expected to grow rapidly.

"Inaction can be especially costly in these markets because consolidated power can stifle the rate and distort the path of innovation," agencies from the G7 cautioned in the joint statement, while also stressing the need for regulatory authorities to understand the impact of emerging technologies on competition.

The statement also noted the risk that tech firms, with control of training data and computing power required to develop generative AI, could potentially take advantage of consumers by engaging in unfair practices such as price increases.

"As companies deploy and monetize AI, G7 competition authorities and policymakers emphasize that current competition law applies to AI development, products, and uses," the agencies said.

The meeting of G7 competition agency representatives has been held annually since 2021, with Japan hosting for the first time this year. Representatives from Japan included Kazuyuki Furuya, chair of the Japan Fair Trade Commission.

Besides Japan, this year's rotating chair, the G7 includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and the United States plus the European Union.

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