IP by AI: the monkey problem

PIC BY A WILD MONKEY / DAVID SLATER / CATERS NEWS

This picture has been triggered by a Celebes macaque in Indonesia fascinated by the mirroring effect produced by the lens of a camera. An intellectual property legal dispute between the camera’s owner and various organisations including Wikipedia occurred to know who have the rights for a creation made by non-human. This is a problem we also have at R&D Mediation, not about monkeys, not so frequent here, but about our artificial intelligence.

We recently produced, for fun, a French poetry book written by an AI (published as creative common). However, we also have AI that imagines new uses for chemical substances, new ways to produce… All this project can be considered as a « non-obvious inventive step » that is required for patentability. If a human invents something new based on his training and education, he can get a patent. But in the case of AI, we can train it with data we don’t understand and produce a patentable invention. To step back on the poetry subject, we could train AI with a language we don’t know, for example in my case Icelandic, then publish and why not sell Icelandic poetry.

That’s something new by itself. AI gives us the opportunity to address ethical topics that already exist but we decided collectively to hide. Our relation to non-human creators, including animals and AI, has to be clarified and the questions about the competitive advantage as well as ownership will have to be considered at short terms.

In the case of the monkey, Wikipedia’s point of view won. Is this a case law for the future?

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