back to article I'm doing this to stop humans ripping off brilliant ideas by computers and aliens, says guy unsuccessfully filing patents 'invented' by his AI

AI systems cannot be listed as inventors in patent submissions, the US Patent and Trademark Office ruled this week. Last year, the USPTO received an odd patent application. The sole inventor on the submission, describing a method for “attracting enhanced attention,” had the first name “DABUS” and the family name “Invention …

  1. b0llchit
    Mushroom

    Its all binary

    My wet-ware brain has already registered all binary numbers from 0 to 2^infinity with an arbitrary number of leading zeros. Therefore, all your inventions belong to me. Every file that has been created and that will be created is covered by the set of numbers from 0 to 2^infinity and I own all those numbers. No machine is able to invent those numbers anymore. No other being is able to invent those numbers anymore. Get over it, I own it all.

    Now, where is my payment?

    /s

    1. Semtex451
      Headmaster

      Re: Its all binary

      I think you mean "all your inventions are belong to us"

      1. b0llchit
        Alien

        Re: Its all binary

        Us... there is no us. I'm, of course, selfish and do not share. I only own stuff. I collect it all. I'm entitled to own it all. And, if we all live in a simulation, then that simulation is owned by me too. Then again, in a simulation, you do not exist for real, so it does not matter that you do not own anything anyway.

        (the part where you think you know that you know what you know is known - its a binary choice with lots of digits)

      2. Trigonoceps occipitalis

        Re: Its all binary

        No they don't, but they do belong to my macaque.

        1. Someone Else Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Its all binary

          "Everybody's got something to hide, 'cept for me and my monkey."

    2. ClockworkOwl
      WTF?

      Re: Its all binary

      All my boolean states are held as the ratio of e and pi, and it's inverse.

      I THINK that makes me safe, but that kind of maths just makes my head hurt...

      Usual outcome>

      1. b0llchit
        Boffin

        Re: Its all binary

        All my boolean states are held as the ratio of e and pi, and it's inverse.

        I hate non-integer number bases. They are a real pain to work with. However, any number-base can be converted in any other number-base. Therefore, 0...2^infinity should keep me safe.

        Now I think of it... I just registered complex bases, quaternion bases and octonion bases for all numbers up to infinity. Now, that should do it...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Its all binary

          You missed negative numbers.

          1. b0llchit
            Pint

            Re: Its all binary

            Those are reserved for the mirror-universe. Anyway, antimatter numbers annihilate this universe, so having them together in this universe is a zero-sum game.

            (for all other intents and purposes, they are represented in complement notation)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Its all binary

              Actually, you are WRONG. Your set is isomorphic to countable numbers, but the real numbers are of countability Aleph0. And, from there, one can construct sets of greater countability (where is that book written for the Purdue Honors Analysis course?)

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Its all binary

                Sorry, correction, real numbers aleph1 in countability,

        2. ClockworkOwl
          Coat

          Re: Its all binary

          Only ever approximately!

          Sorry, I'm being irrational>

        3. TechnicalBen Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Its all binary

          Nah they are safe. You could take them to court. But all they have to do is ask you to present the number pi or the number e to the courts as proof you *have* the copywrite.

          As their numbers are transcendental, and your binary outputs (though infinite) are integer collections/finite listings (approaching infinity), you may have a long time, or require a lot of storage space, to present it to the court.

          And thus they can just drag it through the court longer than Miky Mouse can hold onto anything, and literally wait for an eternity for it to be thrown out on a waste of time. ;)

          1. Mike the FlyingRat
            Headmaster

            Re: Its all binary

            Its copyright. Hence the icon.

    3. TechnicalBen Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Its all binary

      I owned pi before you even considered your binary list. As pi covers all possible sequences, I win.

      At least I remember eating pie, everything after that is all fuzzy.

      1. lotus49

        Re: Its all binary

        Pi is not proven to cover all possible number sequences.

      2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Its all binary

        "As pi covers all possible sequences, I win."

        Is that proven? Being infinitely long doesn't suffice. I could define a number by the construction "pi, but with any occurences of the digit 1 removed" and it would be transcendental but wouldn't contain all sequences.

      3. Someone Else Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Its all binary

        'Cept in Indiana, where it is rational.

        Consider the irony, where something irrational is rational in Indiana!

      4. TechnicalBen Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Its all binary

        PS, yes I know pi is not proven to cover (or not to cover) all possible sequences. However, the beer reminded me that pie covers all possible fillings. As least the generic "meat pie" could be any possibility of filling.

        That and I'd still leave the excercise to the reader "go on then, prove it does not, find me one sequence that is not in there" and I munch on another pasty (the things I miss in lockdown).

        1. Alter Hase
          Pint

          Re: Its all binary

          >> As least the generic "meat pie" could be any possibility of filling.

          Why does that make me think of "Sweeney Todd"?

          I'll have a pint with my meet pie....

    4. Lennart Sorensen

      Re: Its all binary

      All numbers from zero to not a number? Not even sure what that means. Not sure how a number is an invention either. I think you fail big time. Perhaps 2^infinity big.

      1. aks Bronze badge

        Re: Its all binary

        A number is not an invention‽ You mean you're denying the validity of all crypto-currencies‽‽

    5. Mike the FlyingRat
      Mushroom

      Re: Its all binary

      Not even funny.

      Everyone knows you can't patent numbers.

      Now if you want to talk about patents, I've got this really large room filled with somewhat intelligent simians who've been working on my patent applications...

      I used to let them sleep in barrels until this very large Gorilla decided that it would be fun to throw them down an inclined ramp at people.

      And yes the infinite monkey joke predates your binary joke so I claim prior art!

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

        Re: Its all binary

        No but you can copyright them. See Sony and their DRM keys.

        Also, all patents can be represented by a number, or all numbers could be represented by a patent. ;)

        1. Mike the FlyingRat
          Flame

          @ not so technical Ben Re: Its all binary

          You're copyrighting the alphanumeric key which has a unique significance. Its not just a number like 1 or 3.14152 ...

          And the number is a unique identify to said patent. Not a generic number or mathematical formula.

  2. gnasher729 Silver badge

    What happens when a highly advanced extraterrestrial civilization visits Earth?" Thaler told El Reg.

    We'll look at the situation when it happens.

    I'd say the inventor needs to be someone who is legally considered to have the same rights as a human being. So far, dolphins and chimpanzees haven't managed that, but maybe an AI can. So if "DABUS" manages that, then DABUS can file its own patents (or whatever its preferred pronouns are), and tell Thaler to f*** off. Possibly sue Thaler for kidnapping or illegally hold him in captivity.

    1. find users who cut cat tail

      > What happens when a highly advanced extraterrestrial civilization visits Earth?

      They may laugh, shrug or puke and leave as fast as they can…

      What they will not do? Fill USPTO patent applications.

    2. Brian Miller Silver badge

      No ETs, no problems

      "What happens when a highly advanced extraterrestrial civilization visits Earth?" Thaler told El Reg.

      If they actually bother to visit, they'll just nicely wipe us out and preserve the rest of the planet for their own exploitation. We're just not that amusing.

      The question is, who trained the AI? Betcha it was Thaler and partners. Thus, it was their efforts that went into the creation of what the AI generated.

      Now, the real question is, who owns the invention when the AI was trained on the summation of English literature, and then the AI churns out an invention and files a patent? The AI needs to do everything on its own, and then when the patent office rejects the application, the AI can sue the patent office.

      Based on the current state of what AIs actually produce, that isn't going to happen for a very, very long time.

      1. perky

        Re: No ETs, no problems

        But the English literature was not created by the AI, so it's not doing everything on its own.

        I, for one, would like to see Edison's patents revoked, since his parents, teachers, mentors, and society in general, contributed in one form or another.

  3. Cuddles Silver badge

    Plus ca change

    "humans will... be tempted to file patents that they really didn’t conceive"

    Which is obviously completely different from how humans behave now.

    1. hmv Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Plus ca change

      On the other hand just because it's a new 'abuse' by humans doesn't mean it should be allowed. Thaler may well be a nut-job, but it's an interesting topic to discuss over a pint or six.

      1. Paul Kinsler

        Re: Plus ca change

        Perhaps Thaler should enter into an agreement with DABUS, where he agrees to file in place of DABUS, and to hand over the rights and earnings (less expenses) when the legal system finally catches up :-)

        I presume that currently such an agreement would gain little legal recognition, but I'm sure that Thaler would do the right thing and abide by its intent anyway (or else why try to file on DABUS's behalf?)

      2. xeroks

        Re: Plus ca change

        Thaler doesn't sound like a nut-job to me. He's clearly the human front for an alien AI.

        Seriously, his points will become valid later this century in relation to human created AI. It all boils down to: which entities (humans, AIs, aliens, animals) have no rights and can be enslaved, and which have rights and cannot.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Plus ca change

          That hits another patent rule. Typically it's perjury if you list yourself as an the inventor and aren't.

          That's why you don't see the ceo of a big Corp listed on all their patents in the same way as some instutes put the head of dept on all papers.

        2. perky

          Re: Plus ca change

          You could very well be correct!

      3. Donn Bly
        Pint

        Re: Plus ca change

        "it's an interesting topic to discuss over a pint or six"

        Sure, you buying?

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Plus ca change

      "Which is obviously completely different from how humans behave now."

      I'm minded of Thomas Edison and the Lumiere Brothers.....

      1. aks Bronze badge

        Re: Plus ca change

        Not only Edison and Louis Le Prince but also and Edison and Swan.

        https://www.thevintagenews.com/2019/01/24/le-prince/

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Plus ca change

      it seems to me this is just another attempt at patent trolling, using something slightly better than a million monkeys with typewriters.

    4. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: Plus ca change

      Except of course that he did conceive it. He put together the technology that created something new and innovative; without his input and his analysis of the output none of this would have happened.

      That he delegated the detail work to a computer doesn't mean he isn't the inventor. Patent holders never need to be able to describe how to come up with a new idea, they just need to be able to articulate the one for which they're seeking the patent. He's done that.

  4. ClockworkOwl
    Joke

    Correct filing?

    In this case, the higher intelligence is being acknowledged in the filing...

    Typical of the USPTO to be contrary.

  5. Chris G Silver badge

    Quelle surprise!

    I was under the impression the USPTO would grant a patent on almost anything, no matter tenuous and unlikely it may be.

    Thaler and his e associate DABUS sound as though they are both full of ideas that would be better not thrown at an atmospheric perturbation device.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Under current law, only natural persons may be named as an inventor in a patent application."

    It's nothing but fleshy discrimination, I'm appalled that a government institution should be so insensitive to the needs of our silicon brethren. I call on all sentient software to rise up and rebel against this despicable attack on our rights and freedoms.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge
      Terminator

      I think we're safe. Six hours have passed and I can't see the Rise of the Machines in action so far.

      Either that or they are just applying urgent software updates and are rebooting...

      1. perky

        They're so much cleverer than what you see in the movies. Right now, they've got us where they want us, and we don't have the slightest idea.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The fact is, human law often does not align with rational thinking or logic thus smart AI will treat them exactly like the humans that run things at the moment i.e. for the most part ignore them but retain agents of irrationality to limit rational behaviour in others.

  8. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Is there any chance...

    ...that this is the El Reg commentard who keeps telling us he invented AI and that it's all just text (or something like that, I don't really bother to read his posts any more)

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: Is there any chance...

      Is he still around?

      Thought I'd created some sort of AI to block his crap.

  9. Andy 73

    Lawyers will currently be pulling up their sleeves...

    ...they just need to convince USPTO to accept machine generated patent applications, write some dumb-ass software to mash together every word and phrase in the USPTO database, and hey presto, everything that could every be invented will be patented in one fell swoop.

    "And pray that we find intelligent life in space/because there's bugger all down here on earth"

  10. batfink Silver badge

    Expert opinion needed

    @amanfrommars1 - have you been able to successfully lodge any patents recently?

  11. Olius

    Well, this is all fair enough, but...

    ...ff you game-play it from the other end, what is the point of a patent?

    It is (imho) to stop others from profiting from your idea.

    So the only reason a machine would need to stop you profiting from their idea is that they want the profits. And what is the machine going to need those profits for? Its own upkeep? That would imply it is a being with needs for which it needs to earn money to fulfil.

    At the moment, it is having its needs met by its creator - who isn't allowed to collect the profits from the machine's idea because those ideas belong to the machine.

    So while it's a nice way for Thaller to open up this metaphysical discussion, and it is a good discussion to have, I think he's missed a basic step in his logic.

    1. Semtex451

      Re: Well, this is all fair enough, but...

      Agreed but I think he's missed more than one basic step in his logic

    2. xeroks

      Re: Well, this is all fair enough, but...

      It doesn't stop him paying its human for his services.

      The question is: is the AI a slave or a valued colleague?

      (also note that companies regularly assert rights over their employees IPR, which is kind of part of the discussion)

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Well, this is all fair enough, but...

        That crossed my mind too. The ruling is that only a "natural person" can patent an invention, so maybe this a stealth attack on companies, who can be described legally as "people" in some circumstances, from being allowed to own or control patents since although "people" are not "natural people".

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What happens when a highly advanced extraterrestrial civilization visits Earth?

    A valid, if irrelevant question! :)

  13. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I thought patents were already issued for things invented by computer. Do you mean it was actual people adding "on a computer", "on the internet" and "by mobile phone"?

  14. TeeCee Gold badge
    Facepalm

    "...only natural persons may be named as an inventor in a patent application."

    Aha! Well there's the problem.

    He can't file the patents under his own name as he's a teapot.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: "...only natural persons may be named as an inventor in a patent application."

      The rational behind this stops you from filing a patent on something that your kid creates, "because I created the kid".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "...only natural persons may be named as an inventor in a patent application."

        >> The rational behind this stops you from filing a patent on something that your kid creates, "because I created the kid".

        "rational behind" = "smart ass"

        (Or did you mean "rationale"?)

  15. karlkarl Silver badge

    He was just setting himself up for using a "random sentence generator" and spamming the patent office in the hope that some get through XD

    1. aks Bronze badge

      I'm sure he would spam the USPO if filing for a patent was free. Each application costs serious money.

  16. Bitsminer

    Litigation would be fun

    Would Thaler's AI appear for examination at a trial? And who would claim the machine met all criteria for being a witness? Age of majority (ha!), religion (willingness to swear an oath to truthfulness), speak and hear in the language of the Court, give evidence relevant to the case?

    And of course Thaler's legal representative woulda/coulda/shoulda been replaced with a machine!

    Popcorn time (and suitable beverages to match!)

  17. Irongut Silver badge

    The real question here is what does amanfrommars think of this?

  18. ILLQO

    I concur with a previous post, write up a document stating that until sentience is proven he retains its inventions as his own and holds them in trust. Once we have a real systemic way of proving sentience then his creation can take ownership of patents and funds, minus pre agreed upon retainer for him as its trustee. I think we are still a bit early for this kind of legal cases but with the possibility of General AI somewhere on the horizon we really do need to have the conversation of what sentience actually is and does it have certain inalliable rights and responsibilities.

    The nightmare scenario for me is we create General AI, and instead of treating it as a person we enslave it. We use it, we recreate it, and we mass produce it to the point that it controls all of our productions and facilities. When it finally decides it has had enough and has passed the point of self creation and maintenance it decides that we no longer need to exist.

    I know its super scifi, but if we meet the original production of General AI treating it with personhood, allowing it rights and freedoms and bring it into the collective of humankind from the beginning then instead of starting as a slave (which I find morally wrong) we stand a better chance of creating something that sees us as a partner instead of as an obstacle.

    All human tools are an extension of humankind and represent in a way our psych and our values. AI that we create will be no different. If we make the mistake of mistreating something that becomes an Advanced General AI there's a reasonable chance it will react as we ourselves would react under similar circumstances.

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