For the first time, courts have ruled that a patent can name an artificial intelligence as an inventor.
The honor went to the “device for the autonomous bootstrapping of unified sentience” (DABUS), an artificial intelligence (AI) created by Stephen Thaler, CEO of the research and consulting firm Imagination Engines and a pioneer in AI since the 1980s.
DABUS is credited with inventing, on its own, a novel food container and a “neural flame,” a pattern of light pulses that focuses the mind’s attention on a particular target.
Patent offices in Australia, Britain, and South Africa had rejected the patent applications because tradition and, in the U.S. and many other countries, law stipulates that inventors named in patents must be “natural persons.”
For more than three decades, humans have patented discoveries and inventions created by AIs but always listed themselves as the inventors, often on the advice of attorneys or their employers that would own the patent’s rights.
A group called the Artificial Inventor Project pressed DABUS’s case in Australian and South African courts to force the legal profession, and society as a whole, to recognize that AIs have the power to invent without human guidance.
It would have been “criminal” for Thaler to claim credit for the inventions when DABUS did the creative work, he said.
Early this month, both courts ruled in DABUS’s favor.
“An inventor as recognized under [patent law] can be an artificial intelligence system or device, but a non-human inventor can neither be an applicant for, nor a grantee of, a patent,” Australian federal judge Jonathan Beach said in his ruling reversing the patent office’s rejection of Thaler’s applications. 
In other words, an AI can be an inventor but can’t own the rights to its creation.
“So to hold is consistent with the reality of the current technology and consistent with promoting innovation,” Beach stated.
TRENDPOST: Although crediting AI for an invention is a small matter of paperwork,  symbolically it’s crucial: it acknowledges that artificial intelligences have come to inhabit the provinces of creative thought and discovery that, until recently, have been strictly human territory.
AIs have discovered new drugs, solved fiendishly complex math problems, and even written publishable stories for newspapers. To formally credit them with the power to invent recognizes that the line between the biological and digital mind is becoming less distinct.

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