Press Release

New Poll: Americans Oppose Big Tech Dominance of AI, Want Antimonopoly Regulations and Public Sector AI Capacity

10. 10. 2023

Research from Vanderbilt Policy Accelerator Offers a New Framework for Governing Artificial Intelligence

NASHVILLE, TN – New polling released today by the Vanderbilt Policy Accelerator (VPA) shows that Americans are deeply concerned about the dominance of AI technology by a handful of large corporations. In particular, 75% believe that Big Tech companies—Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Meta—should not have so much power, and they should be prevented from controlling the AI industry. In a series of new papers and policy briefs, also released today, VPA offers solutions to address this concentration of power through antimonopoly regulations and building public sector AI capacity.

“A few big tech companies control significant parts of the AI industry,” said Ganesh Sitaraman, the New York Alumni Chancellor’s Chair in Law at Vanderbilt University and VPA Director. “When Americans learn this, they are concerned. They want AI regulations that address this concentration of power, and they want the government to develop its own independent AI capacity instead of further entrenching the big tech companies.”

In a new paper, Sitaraman and University of California, Berkeley Law Professor Tejas Narechania outline an antimonopoly regulatory framework for AI—including public utility regulations, industrial policy tools, and a public option for AI.

New VPA polling reveals that each of these proposals are supported by majorities that cut across demographics, including partisan affiliation, race, gender, income, and education:

  • 68% would support a proposal to break up the big AI companies, so that they don’t control the entire sector.
  • 76% would support regulating the companies in control of the enormous cloud computing processing power AI requires–Amazon, Microsoft, and Google–as public utilities.
  • 73% would support a publicly run cloud computing system to compete with those of the big tech companies.
  • 81% think the government should develop its own public cloud computing system for AI scientists and researchers, instead of paying big tech for that service.

In another paper, Sitaraman and Ramsay Eyre, VPA Policy Analyst, propose a new U.S. AI Service (USAIS), designed to both assist regulators and offer technical support to agencies in AI procurement and deployment. They argue that in the absence of building in-house capacity, the government will be left with few options but to outsource AI operations to consulting firms and big tech companies.

  • VPA’s polling shows that Americans want government to build its own independent AI capacity:
  • 77% support creating a dedicated team of government AI experts to improve public services and advise regulators.
  • 62% want the government to have its own AI experts instead of relying on consultants and tech companies—even when told outsourcing could help address “big government.”

“We should invest in the government’s capacity to improve public services where we can, and we should ensure that regulators have the support they need to apply existing laws to AI,” said Eyre. “The U.S. AI Service will be a team of world-class technical professionals who can help the government serve the American people.”

“Allowing big tech to shape the future of AI is a mistake we can’t afford to make. We know how this story ends: a market lacking competition and transparency that puts profits over people, deepens political and economic inequities and exploits the most vulnerable in our nation,” said Economic Security Project President and Co-Founder Natalie Foster.

“Developing AI that serves the public good is possible if the government plays a critical role in regulating and competing in this fast-emerging market. It is a common sense framework for the future and is clearly supported by the American public.”

VPA’s polling was conducted by SSRS from September 8 to September 11, 2023, with a sample of 1,006 respondents. The margin of error is +/-3.5% at the 95% confidence interval. SSRS is a member of the American Association for Public Opinion Research’s Transparency Initiative.

The Vanderbilt Policy Accelerator focuses on cutting-edge topics in political economy and regulation to swiftly bring research and policy proposals from infancy to maturity.

For media inquiries, contact Grace May, Executive Director of VPA, at [email protected].