Episode 6: AI or Human - Which is the inventor?

Guests: Judge Rama Elluru and Christian Hannon

Welcome to the sixth episode of our podcast “Mind the Gap: Dialogs on Artificial Intelligence.”  In our podcast series, we sit down with economists, doctors, artists, scientists, astronomers, judges, lawyers, and policymakers, each of whom is engaged in applying or analyzing the use of AI technologies.  Through these discussions we will be exploring the broad applications of AI and their legal implications.  Ideally these conversations will contribute to an informed discussion of legal and policy issues related to AI.

Given the innovative and creative applications of AI, its development and use raise important legal considerations, most notably in the areas of intellectual property and national security.  Technologists introduce all manner of innovations, most of which disappear without much of an impact.  The legal and policy communities, correctly, seldom focus on this froth until society starts to adopt a technology widely and its use causes policy controversy.

As AI evolves to increasingly perform innovative tasks, the idea that something created by a machine that had previously been created by a human raises a number of complex issues, such as whether AI may be listed as an inventor on a patent.

The US Patent and Trademark Office, henceforward the USPTO, invited public comment in 2019 to gather information about the impact of AI technologies on intellectual property law and policy.

The comments that the USPTO received expressed the consensus that existing laws and regulations did not require change to deal with AI.  On the other hand, the US National Security Commission on AI subsequently recommended that laws be changed to protect intellectual property rights in AIs and their outputs as a matter of US national security.

In this episode we are fortunate to have two members of the USPTO staff involved in the preparation of those two critical reports.  Our guests are: Judge Rama Elluru and Christian Hannon.  Judge Elluru was an Administrative Patent Judge on the Patent Trial and Appeal Board at the USPTO.  Christian Hannon is a patent attorney at the USPTO.

Recorded: 2021-11-01