Blueshift IP co-founder Robert Plotkin recently authored an article for Reuters that takes a unique approach to analyzing the trending question of whether an AI system should be eligible to be named as an inventor on a patent.
In the article, “Beyond recognition: why naming AI as inventor on patents doesn’t compute,” Robert looks at why the patent system was developed in the first place: inventors are granted a certain period of exclusivity for their inventions in exchange for public disclosure of those inventions.
However, not being human, AI does not respond to the incentives inherent in our current patent system. As Robert writes:
An AI system does not have desires, aspirations, or needs. It won’t choose to invent (rather than not to invent), work harder, or choose to disclose its inventions to the public (rather than keep them secret) if it knows it can be named on a patent, nor will it be demotivated if its name doesn’t appear on a patent. Therefore, the primary public policy underlying the patent system, based on incentives, does not warrant naming AI systems as patent inventors.
To help illustrate the points made in the article, Robert collaborated with the popular large language model ChatGPT to author this fictional tale in which judges of an invention competition must select a winner among a slew of talented competitors, including a prolific AI system.
The Grand Innovation Fair
In the bustling city of Neotropolis, the annual Grand Innovation Fair was the highlight of the year. Inventors from all over the world flocked to showcase their brilliant creations, hoping to win the coveted title of “Master Inventor.” The title came not only with honor and pride but also with exclusive patent rights that ensured the winner’s creation was protected.
This year, however, the fair was buzzing with an unexpected rumor. For the first time, an AI called Artemis-9, designed by the renowned tech conglomerate Cybertech Corp., was participating as an independent contestant.
When the day of the fair arrived, booths filled the massive hall, each displaying a marvel more astonishing than the last. But the largest crowd had gathered around Artemis-9. The AI, with its intricate web of gleaming wires and lights, was demonstrating an array of inventions at an astonishing speed. A self-tying shoe, a plant that could play music, even a mini-robot that could make breakfast!
The human inventors watched with a mix of amazement and anxiety. How could they compete with such rapid and flawless creation?
As the judges began their rounds, whispers filled the air. “Is this the end of human innovation?” “Will Artemis-9 be the new Master Inventor?”
Finally, at the grand podium, the chief judge stood up to announce the winner. The tension was palpable. “This year,” the judge began, “we’ve witnessed something unprecedented. Artemis-9’s abilities are indeed remarkable. But we must ask ourselves – who is the true innovator? Is it the tool or the hand that wields it?”
The crowd listened intently.
“While Artemis-9 can create, it does not dream. It doesn’t experience the spark of inspiration in the middle of the night or feel the frustration of failed attempts. It doesn’t bask in the joy of discovery or the thrill of solving a problem that seemed insurmountable. These emotions, these journeys are the essence of invention.”
He continued, “A tool, no matter how advanced, is only as good as its user. It doesn’t embark on the journey of creation; it aids it.”
He paused for emphasis. “Therefore, this year’s title of ‘Master Inventor’ goes to… Mia Wang for her revolutionary clean energy generator!”
The hall erupted in applause, cheering for Mia’s triumph. Artemis-9 continued to blink its lights, unaffected and unresponsive to the accolade it didn’t win.
That evening, as the sun set over Neotropolis, the inventors celebrated not just Mia’s invention, but the indomitable human spirit. The message was clear: Tools enhance the process, but the heart of innovation beats within a human chest.