Artificial intelligence (AI) makes better sense in the simplicity of Amharic – ሰው ሰራሽ የማሰብ ችሎታ (a thinking capacity created by humans) than when defined with scientific sophistication and perfection in English, of course is also relatable in a simplified English language definition: “technology containing or entailing (human-like) intelligence”.
Mind you, humans have multiple thinking capacities and AI is modelled rather closely, so some experts classify AI into three types, others into four and still others into seven. That may suggest there isn’t any limit to thinking types so long as there is a capacity to invest in the development of AI just as there is no limit to human thought so long as effort and curiosity are there to support it among other things.
One could therefore imagine AI as an enabler of decadent choice adapted to a lifestyle that avoids the complex process of tolerance and fluctuating human attitudes and behaviours. In other words, no effort on the part of the layperson but to wait for the scientist to make it all happen by simplifying life, erhem, if so desired . . .
Take walking through an airport as an example. Google’s AI assisted Live View features will point you in the precise direction of the escalator that leads to the shop that stocks your favourite duty free item. Obtaining that knowledge through Siri or at the click of a smart phone app frees the individual from the mildest effort of exploring to the risk of getting lost or experiencing a most exciting discovery. AI certainly helps to take shortcuts away from the unknown and takes you right to the spot you want to be in . . . which sounds great for some and arouses suspicion for others.
People who are not naturally endowed with map reading skills have likely leaped for joy when unpacking a gift-wrapped, user friendly GPS (or will do in the future to a gift-wrapped autopilot vehicle such as the Tesla). Some have scoffed at the idea of owning a robot to clean up under the table after every family meal while others worshipped the dodgy-looking object like a Godsend. All those technologies have some level of AI capacity invested in them to simplify how we live and to facilitate the redirection of personal effort and energy to more desirable spaces.
But what happens when the power of AI goes beyond fulfilling our lifestyle choices and starts to generate ideas and inventions using its own ideas? Could it claim ownership of commercial benefits? Would it have the power to win or lose legal battles? How would it be defined in a human relationship and would individuals have to get all tangled up in it? Two possible ways of moving with this is to utter that you’ll find out when that happens and stop reading, or question what an AI inventor could possibly be and read on.
Stephen Thaler’s invention is what he calls a synthetic brain or Creativity Machine (of which there are many). During its early phase, this AI provided a mechanism equivalent to streaming consciousness while at a second stage, it used the forms of perceptron (from perception) and imagitron (from imagination) to come together into a computational brainstorming session “to create a transient, human level intelligence” i.e. noise, confabulations, neural network memories, nonsense, ideas, numerical patterns, encoded feelings, concepts, strategies and much, much more. Thaler claims his creativity machinery inventions have been used by the military, NASA, and others to produce, he mentions precisely, products that he is contractually bound against offering public disclosure. Never mind that then. So who owns the patent of a more advanced version of this kind of synthetic brain, i.e. an AI invented by an AI?
In July 2021, the first patent ever awarded to a non-human was approved by the South Africa patent office. The AI inventor, also known as Dabus, was filed by an international team of lawyers and researchers led by the University of Surrey who argued that the legal definition of an “inventor” can no longer be limited to a human being as that is not “fit for purpose in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”. Its all up for debate and raises the question I’m sure you might wish to consider in 2022: i.e. Are we, as human beings, fit for purpose in the Fourth Industrial Revolution if we don’t understand AI and cease to be curious about it? The answer is of course intimately your choice, for now. By all means, don’t let future AI be the one to dictate whatever that may be (ተማሪዎች ልብ በሉ).
Awarding AI patent rights to non-humans raises complex issues, one of which explains possibilities for the AI inventor to perform future patent infringements. Any liability charges against a direct infringement by an AI inventor would involve multiple entities who participated in the creation and development of the patented AI – imagine the complexity of the case – just not sure if that is good or bad for lawyers.
AI has already been recognized as a new digital frontier and is showing signs of a transformational impact on the world. More than one-third of all inventions use patented machine and deep learning as a dominant AI technique.
That’s it for 2021! Hope to bring you more titbits in 2022!
Happy New Year!