Artificial intelligence is getting pretty dang clever and even playing a hand in creating new inventions like pharmaceuticals to treat OCD. Many engineers and armchair technologists have wondered if A.I. could be awarded a patent. Well, the United States Patent and Trademark Office weighed the dilemma and came down on the side of no – under current law, “only natural persons may be named as an inventor in a patent application.”
The decision came after reviewing an application brought by the Artificial Inventor Project on behalf of an A.I. (DABUS). DABUS helped humans create a shape-shifting food container and an emergency flashlight. The Artificial Inventor Project did not request that the A.I. should own the patent, only be listed as an inventor.
But if only a natural person can be listed as an inventor, what happens when an advanced supercomputer like IBM’s Watson creates something on its own with no humans at all? Will the patent award go to the hundreds or thousands of programmers who contributed code? Or will the invention be unpatentable? Only time will tell.