Photo by — @lorenzohamers

Discussing Infringing on AI Patents with IBM, SINTEF and Simplifai

How Do You Know if Your Machine Learning is Illegal?

Summary — numbers from 2013–2016 (WIPO, 2019)

  • Patents in AI are growing rapidly, quicker than any other category within technology
  • Machine learning is the dominant AI-technique. Deep learning and neural networks are the fastest growing techniques
  • The field with the highest amount of patents is telecommunications
  • The most frequent combination in filing is deep learning and computer vision
  • Companies are dominating AI patenting. The company with the most AI-related patents is IBM.
  • China is growing rapidly in the amount of AI-related patents.

The Panel Participants

Alex Moltzau (me) from KPMG | AI Social Research

An Excerpt from the Debate

Nick Sheriff (Media Mondays): I think that was varied insight into looking at things from a different point of view. I think that was an interesting view, it is at the end of a day a tool. We are interested in the planet. We had the first event that combined sustainability and tech in Norway. Coming in between both of you guys I think we have that. We have powerful AI to look into all these algorithms, go into the data of organisations and see how we can make our companies more green and sustainable, so on and so forth. Two interesting perspective.

Discussion after the Debate

Clearly I think this is an interesting situation. Especially when you have one of the largest actors in AI and a small company in the same debate. A few question that arises:

  • What is fair patenting and policing of AI? Fairness should be considered equally in this area.
  • If there is a patent or use that is important for humanity or to help save the planet from a climate crisis, can we make exception? Consider for example the Internet and what would have happened if that was not made freely available, and instead commercialised. If this situation comes up: how do we know?
  • When is a small company liable if they have no way to check the large existing frameworks of growing AI/ML patents?
  • Large companies such as IBM can afford to patent, will there be an easy process for smaller companies to do so? If that is the case should we even make patents easier.

Further reading

I have found a few people writing on this topic that you may want to check out.

That’s a nice algorithm you got there– is it an illegal one?



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Alex Moltzau

AI Policy, Governance, Ethics and International Partnerships at All views are my own.