DABUS and the debate over AI inventions

DABUS's developers want to list the AI system as an inventor on two patent filings. They're in for a long legal debate.

Primer

The team behind the DABUS AI system have made a bold claim: yes, they invented the AI. But they didn't invent what it created.

What may sound like a semantic argument will actually have longterm ramifications for intellectual property, they argue.

Imagination Engines Inc., the company that built DABUS, claims that DABUS created two new products entirely on its own, and deserves to be listed as an inventor on patents they file on its behalf.

"We are not advocating for an AI to own its own patents," the team writes in a FAQ. They are, however, arguing in European and American patent offices that a machine's developer ought to own a patent, while listing the machine as the inventor.

Current law, which does not account for non-human inventors, "risks attributing 'authorship' to a person who merely presses the ON button of an AI system," Ryan Abbott, Imagination Engines lawyer, writes.

"Such attribution of authorships seems wrong compared to an author who has applied creative energy and input," into work of their own, he writes.

Abbot also makes the case that intellectual property rights and patent law encourage inventors to make their work public.

Patent law that doesn't account for AI-enabled inventions may lead developers to keep their work private. And in a world where systems are inventors, this could lead to longterm problems if their inventions aren't publicly disclosed:

In the case of a human inventor, once that inventor passes away, the invention is lost to humankind. The situation is not necessarily the same with an AI system, as it does not necessarily have a finite existence as humans currently do. It is conceivable, therefor, that an invention made by an AI system could remain hidden from the public indefinitely.

Follow this page as the debate continues.