Computers Should Not be Granted Patents

by Wesley J. Smith

In order to receive a patent, the subject of the protection must be a human invention.

Some want to change that and allow computers programmed to “artificial intelligence” sophistication to receive patents. From the Science Daily story:

New research published by the University of Surrey in Boston College Law Review is calling for inventions by computers to be legally granted patents.

The research states that the rapid increase in computer power is posing new challenges when it comes to patenting an invention. Artificial intelligence is playing an ever larger role in innovation — with major players such as IBM, Pfizer and Google investing heavily in creative computing — but current patent law does not recognise computers as inventors.

Without a change in the law, the findings warn that there will be less innovation, caused by uncertainty, which would prevent industry from capitalising on the huge potential of creative computers. We are also likely to see disputes over inventorship, with individuals taking credit for inventions that are not genuinely theirs.

Baloney. If a computer’s programming is so sophisticated that it can “invent,” the patent should go to the copyrighted software designer or the owner of the machine. After all, it would be their inventions (or property) that actually enabled the patentable discovery to be made.

Beyond that, allowing computers to receive patents would be destructive of human exceptionalism by transforming inanimate things–owned objects, if you will–into a legally recognized subjects, perhaps even “persons.” 

Maintaining the strict requirement that only human beings can be granted a patent would maintain the important concept of human uniqueness, permit us to unleash all of the creative power of computing, and without transforming inanimate things into rights-possessing entities.

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