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Patenting artificial intelligence (Part II)

By José Santacroce, Head of Patent Department

The three levels of Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be defined as follows:

  • Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI) refers to a computer´s ability to perform a specific (single) task.
  • Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) which is capable of transferring knowledge from one domain to a new domain, e.g. when a computer program can perform the same intellectual task as a human being.
  • Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI) which is theoretically capable of surpassing human intellect.

Today, most experts would agree that we are seeing tangible results from ANI only. AGI is at least two decades away from being perfected (only scientific studies but no more), and ASI is even farther off (still kind of science fiction).

There is a diffused sentiment that the trend is that software will widely become AI, which in turn will become “Super Software” implemented everywhere, in every field of technology, well beyond ICT.

Key elements to be considered when drafting/prosecuting a patent application in the field of AI are the following:

  • The technical effect(s) of the invention should be explicitly defined by means of technical features.
  • The AI invention must be a technically implemented.
  • The AI invention must be applied to a field of technology.

Theoretical and futuristic aspects include the following issues:

  • Who is the inventor, a person or AI?
  • Reverse engineering will be more and more difficult: How to detect infringement?
  • Who is the skilled person for assessing inventive step, a person, AI or a combination of both?



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