Abbott’s argument is that machine inventions should be protected to encourage people to use AI for social good. It shouldn’t matter, he says, if a pharmaceutical company asked a group of scientists or a group of supercomputers to formulate a vaccine for a new pathogen: The result should still be patentable, because society needs people to use AI to create inventions. beneficial. . The old patent law, she says, is not prepared to deal with changing definitions of intelligence. “In the United States, inventors are defined as individuals, and we argued that there was no reason to limit it to a natural person,” she says.
What applies to patents should also apply to copyright, he says. If, for example, an AI is asked to write “the best pop song ever” and it does, it would have created extremely valuable intellectual property. “Is that an activity that we should encourage through the copyright system?” Abbott says. “If the view is that the system exists for the public to get more works, then the answer is clearly yes.”
In short, says Abbott, copyright and patent regimes should exist to encourage creation, not limit it. Instead of looking for a vague legal line in the sand where a collaboration between AI and humans can be protected, we should remove that line entirely. Intellectual property rights must be granted regardless of how a thing was created, even in the absence of a human inventor or author.
Through the Artificial Inventor Project, Abbott represents Thaler directly in some jurisdictions and manages litigation in others, all free of charge. However, the two men disagree on the true importance of their work.
Abbott says the coverage of the cases—influenced by the district court’s vagueness—has been rather muddled, with the misguided focus on DABUS autonomy. He emphasizes that he is not arguing that an AI should own copyrights, 3D printers (or scientists employed by a multinational, for that matter) create things, but do not own them. He sees no legal difference between Thaler’s machine and someone asking Midjourney to “draw me a picture of a squirrel on a bicycle.”
“The autonomous claim was that the machine was running the traditional elements of authorship, not that it came out of some primordial sludge, plugged itself in, paid a bunch of utility bills, and dropped out of college to pursue art,” he says. “And that’s the case with many generative AI systems in common use today: the machine is autonomously automating the traditional elements of authoring.”
Thaler directly contradicts Abbott here. He says that DABUS does not accept any human input; he is totally autonomous. “So I probably don’t agree with Abbott about bringing in all these artificial intelligence tools, you know, text-to-image and so on, where you have a human being dictating and driving the tool,” he says. . “My stuff just sits and contemplates and contemplates and generates new insights that can be, you know, along any sensory channel.”
DABUS has been around much longer than the claims. Thaler describes it as an evolving system that “was at least 30 years in the making.” He, he says by email, “created the world’s most capable AI paradigm, and through his sensibility, he is driven to invent and create.” Throughout our conversation, he seems exasperated that journalists have tended to focus on the legal aspects of their cases.