- Scientists and lawyers want to change laws around the world so that artificially intelligent machines can be credited on patents as the inventors of ideas.
- An international team of legal experts has revealed it is recruiting patent lawyers from around the world in attempt to gain recognition of AI inventors. The team previously filed patents in the US, EU and UK, and has now reached out to authorities in the Middle East and Asia.
- That’s after an AI called Dabus came up with two new ideas: a new type of food storage container, and a new kind of lamp.
- Dabus may struggle for formal recognition after the UK issued guidance suggesting it would not accept robot inventors, while the US has taken comments from members of the public to figure out what to do next.
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Artificially intelligent machines could soon join the ranks of the world’s greatest inventors.
There is a legal battle brewing over whether robot inventors should be granted the same recognition as human creators.
That’s being led by an international squad of legal experts, which has revealed plans to recruit patent lawyers from around the world in an attempt to upend “outdated” rules disqualifying AI inventors.
The group argues that autonomous machines shouldn’t be barred from being inventors, and that their designs deserve protection.
As the capacity for artificial intelligence to come up with original ideas has rapidly improved, legislators everywhere have been scrambling to figure out how to respond. Can an AI own intellectual property?
The six-strong group from around the world first made headlines in July after submitting patents designed by an artificially intelligent machine with US, UK and EU authorities.
Dabus is an AI inventor which invented a new type of food container and a lamp
The team is battling to recognise a particular AI inventor called Dabus.
Dabus, the creation of Missouri-based AI expert Dr Stephen Thaler, was fed a wealth of information including a number of abstract concepts related to design, practicality, colour and emotion. Afterwards, the AI was able to design two original inventions of its own.
The first was a “fractal food container”, a kind of lunchbox capable of changing its shape, making it an easier fit for a range of different foodstuffs, and easier for prosthetic or robotic limbs to grip.
The second was a flickering lamp, or “neural flame” as the team dubbed it, which mimics brain activity in a way that theoretically draws more attention from the human eye. The application suggested this could be used in emergency situations in order to draw the attention of rescue services.
We could enter a new age of AI inventors
While the initial applications including Dabus have yet to be officially decided on, the team said they intended to target more patent offices around the world – and have already submitted designs in the Middle East and Asia.
Ryan Abbott, a professor of law and health sciences at the University of Surrey, exclusively told Business Insider the six-strong team of patent attorneys had submitted Dabus’ designs to authorities in Israel, Taiwan and Germany – with more in the pipeline.
“Since we originally submitted the designs, we’ve received a lot of interest from lawyers in different jurisdictions,” said Prof Abbott. “So now we’re actively recruiting experts around the world, so that we can have the best chance of navigating local patent laws, and long-term achieving some change at the international level.”
The newest member of the team, Peggy Wu, is executive manager at Top Team, one of the biggest intellectual property firms in Taiwan.
Wu told Business Insider she agreed to join the team after realising machine inventors were “no longer confined to science fiction”.
“I had seen some articles talking about AI inventors, but hadn’t paid serious attention to it,” she said. “But after speaking to the team, I realised how important it was – we are already living in the age of AI inventors.
“The main idea behind the patent system is to improve the development of industry… If AI-generated inventions can’t be protected by patent rights, it’s very likely the big players with AI powers will keep their inventions as trade secrets. I think that would be a boundary to shared knowledge and polarize the competition.”
Since the team submitted their applications, authorities have begun engaging with the question of machine inventors more publicly.
In October, the UK Intellectual Property Office quietly issued an update to its guidance on inventorship, saying an inventor had to be “a person” and that applications listing an AI would be withdrawn.
Across the Atlantic, the US Patent and Trademark Office published a notice saying it was seeking comments from the public on the rules around patents designed by artificial inventors.
Business Insider approached the Israel Patent Office, German Patent and Trademark Office, and Taiwan Intellectual Property Office for comment.