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Patent Office Says AIs Cannot Be Inventors

Recently, the United States Patent and Trademark Office published a decision that inventorship is limited to natural persons.

An artificial intelligence named DABUS created by physicist and AI researcher Stephen Thaler came up with two inventions; a shape-shifting food container and an emergency flashlight.

...the USPTO has decided that DABUS and any other AI cannot be listed as an inventor on a patent filing.

Until now, US patent law was vague about whether machines could invent, referring to “individuals” as eligible inventors. Thaler, along with a group of patent law experts, argued that because Thaler didn't have any expertise in containers or flashlights, and didn't help DABUS make the inventions, it wouldn't be right for him to be listed as the inventor.

In the UK, the DABUS patents were rejected under patent laws there that forbid non-natural persons from inventing. With this week's announcement, the US has followed suit, stating that "only natural persons may be named as an inventor in a patent application."

Science fiction readers have long wondered about computers that make themselves, and whether artificial intelligences should be permitted free rein to create things.

In 1984 in William Gibson's Neuromancer:

"... How smart's an AI, Case?"

"Depends. Some aren't much smarter than dogs. Pets. Cost a fortune anyway. The real smart ones are as smart as the Turing heat is willing to let 'em get."

"Look, you're a cowboy. How come you aren't just flat-out fascinated with those things."

"Well," he said, "for starts, they're rare. Most of them are military, the bright ones, and we can't crack the ice. That's where ice all comes from, you know? And then there's the Turing cops, and that's bad heat..."

Computers themselves have the freedom to build themselves and program themselves, at least in science fiction. Read about the Vulcan 3 computer in Philip K. Dick's 1960 novel Vulcan's Hammer to learn more.

From Vice and uspto and Denied.

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