AI-generated works are not credited to the system that created them, but instead, the person who designed the system is named the author or inventor. (Image Credit: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)


Artificial intelligence has played a role in creating things like art and music, but who gets credited for the works it created? In a case study, an AI system named Dabus was named the inventor of two patents. Still, the US Patent and Trademark Office recently rejected this right, stating that only humans could be regarded as the inventor.


For example, in October 2019, art generated by AI was sold at the auction house Christie’s New York for $432,000. AI is also producing music, with a new industry being created from AI in music. Musician Taryn Southern used an AI system called Amper to produce the first-ever AI-composed album titled I AM AI.


Now, an AI system called Dabus, developed by Dr. Stephen Thaler is capable of creating and devising new inventions. The system has already created two different patents, such as the “fractal container,” which is a food container that utilizes fractal designs to create bulges and holes in the sides. This design makes it easier for containers to fit in tight spaces, making them safer for transportation. Robotic arms are also able to grip and pick them up with ease.


Apart from the container, the AI system has also created a neural flame lamp, which flickers in a rhythm corresponding to patterns of neural activity that coincides with the creation of new ideas. Ultimately, this design attracts a lot of attention, so it’s difficult to ignore.


Dr. Stephen Thaler had been in discussion with patent attorneys to file patents for the two new creations with Dabus being named as the inventor. This is raising a lot of questions and concerns in patent law because it’s always been assumed that only humans can be regarded as the inventor for patent law purposes. Some people think AI-generated inventions shouldn’t be granted patent protection, and instead, they should only get lesser protection. Others believe that they should be given patent protection, but it still raises two main questions: who would be given credit as the inventor and who would own them?


A human creator in many countries is required for copyright protection when it comes to works such as art, music, etc. International copyright law generally involves a human behind the creation, so if a human author doesn’t exist, there is no copyright protection. Countries like the UK have found a way to work around this issue.


In the UK, any copyrighted work created by AI can receive copyright protection. This is mainly because UK law regards it as a human author since the person is the one who programmed the algorithms and neural networks, set up and trained the AI. However, figuring out who owns AI-generated works and creations and how they will be given some form of protection will be the most talked about topic in global intellectual property (IP) law.


It could be a few years before there’s clarification about how IP law will protect AI-generated works and inventions. Until that day arrives, any company that uses AI to create works will need to take specific measures to ensure that what AI generates is owned by them and under the protection of IP law.


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