“Rise of the machines!” AI systems can be patent inventors in Australia!

“Sir, sir, wake up!”  A tremulous voice is rousing me from my slumber.

“What is it Dougal?  (Dougal is my longstanding imaginary butler). Surely all is well with the world of patents now that the insidious innovation patent has been put to rest.”

“No, sir – an AI system has been found capable of being named as an inventor under Australian patent law!  Look at the recent Federal Court decision of Thaler v Commissioner of Patents.”  He thrusts a printed version into my hands, his eyes brimming with tears…

Ah, my worst nightmare has come true.  As everybody knows, robots, machines, AI, call them what you will, are poised to take over humanity.  One can only look at the prescient film series of the Matrix (where Keanu Reaves plays a less robotic version of himself) and the Terminator (where Arnold Schwarzenneger plays a warmer, more human version of himself) to know that this is true.

And the signs are everywhere.  Apparently, there’s a fridge that can detect that you are running out of milk and order some more.  It’s smarter than my family!  And, my iPhone has a voice that sounds uncannily like the voice of my son’s Canadian music teacher, and it garbles my surname just like a real human being.

And yet, as every fan of sci-fi tropes knows, there is one thing that the machines can never emulate and that is the spark of human creativity!

Until now…

In this case, some meat puppet dancing on the strings of his AI overlords applied for a patent in the name of DABUS (an AI) for a “food container and devices and methods of attracting enhanced attention”.  He was unsuccessful in having his robotic master recognised as an inventor in the rest of the world but in politically correct Australia, DABUS was found to be an inventor. So far (at least for now), because DABUS is not recognised as a person, it cannot own the patent (or any other property) or, for example, vote.

Not only does this take away one of my rare pleasures – looking at a pretty food container and exclaiming “what (human) genius thought of that! – but it also means that there is just about nothing more that we can do that AIs, robots and/or machines can’t.

On the back of this watershed moment, I am expecting all sorts of other rights, normally allocated only to humans, to be given to AI’s…

Next time on Patent Busting, an analysis of the implications of the decision for Australian patent law.  Where, for example, do we find a panel of non-inventive AI expert witnesses to testify on inventive step…how does an AI assign its entitlement to an invention  under US patent law, etc.

Bring me my tin foil hat Dougal…

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