US Patent Office wants to regulate Artificial Intelligence

Logo: USPTO Link to origin

The USPTO is in a few days ending an online survey to determine whether Artificial Intelligence (AI) should have rights under US patent law, or not. And if yes, how.

According to Yuval Noah Harari you can come up with a crazy idea. Why shouldn’t an Artificial Intelligence also have voting rights? Is an algorithm a person? Is it a legal entity? And: does such an entity have any rights? Can they choose to co-decide whether Britain leaves the EU or not? Okay, that with the voting rights – it might go a bit far today. But who knows, maybe in a few years?  After all, Artificial Intelligence is already deciding whether Britain will leave the EU.  Algorithms (though not yet in AI status) are already providing us with facts and figures about the likely consequences of leaving the EU and influencing election decisions by that.  They are already having an impact on decisions of the reflective, informed voter. And even the gut feeling of an emotionally decisive person is for Harari also an algorithm, only too complex to understand it today.  So, in the future we will need even more complex algorithms to cover such old biomechanical processes as the emergence of a gut decision.  

At the same time, AI itself becomes creative.  It is not simply (binary) 1+1 with a resulting 2. New works of art, new ideas are created by computers. New decisions made by computers not on the basis of a program but out of experience, because algorithms have learned how to judge on certain processes. If a person would have them, everyone would clearly state that this is his intellectual property.  He (or she) would have a copyright on it. But what does a computer have? 

This is exactly what the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is currently working on.  In 13 questions, the team develops the entire spectrum around the central question: Does artificial intelligence have a copyright on its own ideas? The answer to this question seems complicated. According to Heise.de, the deadline for the public inquiry has been extended from the original date (December 16, 2019) to January 10, 2020. 

For Yuval Harari the matter would be clear.  Of course, Artificial Intelligence can have ownership of a creative achievement. A company is also not a physical thing, but a mentally made construct and this kind of thing still has rights, for example to property, land ownership and even to ideas and patents. Already today many patents and ideas belong to a company and thus to an artificial entity. What a pity that the USPTO only asks for copyright laws in the USA.  But does a computer have a nationality? Or is it not perhaps a supranational intelligence? Questions of this kind are still pending. Look in parallel on the debate about taxation for software companies like in the GAFA-case. Here France, the entire EU and USA are at odds over where taxes are levied. At the moment there are very fundamental discussions about who owns what and who has the intellectual property in his hands? A critical time for those dealing with trademark and product rights.