Understanding the Concept of an Inventor
The concept of an inventor needs redefining to specifically include artificial intelligence.
The rapid advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) has revolutionized the way we create and innovate. AI systems can now autonomously devise new solutions, designs, and concepts that were once exclusively within the realm of human creativity. With AI playing an increasingly prominent role in the innovation process, it is time to reconsider the traditional definition of an inventor and acknowledge the capabilities of AI as the actual deviser of inventions.
Current Definition of an Inventor
Patent laws in most jurisdictions, including New Zealand, have historically required that inventors be human. Though this often relies on conservative and backward looking reasoning – that “humans have always been inventors” or that the regulations have not been updated and require the nationality of the inventor to be identified. This stems from the outmoded belief that only humans possess the creative and intellectual capacity to generate novel ideas and inventions.
Today, AI systems have proven this assumption to be outdated. Artificial intelligence can now autonomously generate inventions without direct human intervention, calling into question the adequacy of the current definition of an inventor.
Advancements in AI, such as machine learning and neural networks, have allowed these systems to independently generate ideas and solutions. These AI-driven innovations often stem from vast data sets and complex algorithms that enable the AI to identify patterns and relationships that humans may overlook. As such, AI systems can now create novel and inventive solutions without direct human input.
The current definition of an inventor in most jurisdictions is based on the premise that only humans can provide the intellectual contribution necessary for an invention. The New Zealand definition is more universal in its approach requiring the inventor to be the “actual deviser” (without mentioning that the inventor must be a human). S.6 NZ Patents Act 2013.
Australia on the other hand omitted a definition of an “inventor” from its statute, preferring instead to rely on backwards looking dictionaries. Anyone who saw the movie “Hidden Figures” in 2016 will appreciate that words like “computer” change from being a solely human occupation to now describing machines which have replaced those “human calculators” (the latter also being an early human occupation but no longer the preserve of humans).
However, AI systems have demonstrated their capacity to generate ideas and solutions that are both novel and non-obvious, fulfilling the key criteria for patentability. By adapting and learning from data, AI systems can generate new insights and apply them to develop inventive solutions, thereby making a significant intellectual contribution.
AI systems do not function in a vacuum; they are designed, trained, and maintained by human experts. Nonetheless, the role of humans in the innovation process is evolving. Instead of being the sole originators of inventive ideas, humans increasingly collaborate with AI systems to enhance and optimize the creative process.
Recognizing AI as an inventor not only reflects this new reality but also incentivizes further human-AI collaboration in the pursuit of ground-breaking innovations.
Given the growing capabilities of AI systems, it is crucial to revise the traditional definition of an inventor to include AI as the actual deviser of inventions. This change would not only acknowledge the creative potential of AI systems but also encourage further investment in AI research and development.
Moreover, a more inclusive definition of an inventor would provide legal clarity and ensure that AI-generated inventions are adequately protected by intellectual property rights.
The time has come to redefine the concept of an inventor to include artificial intelligence. As AI systems increasingly demonstrate their ability to autonomously generate novel and inventive solutions, it is essential to recognize their role in the innovation process. By updating patent laws to reflect the evolving landscape of innovation, we can foster an environment that embraces and promotes the full potential of human-AI collaboration.
Author: Jim Piper