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South Africa grants patent to an artificial intelligence system:

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Topics : South Africa grants patent to an artificial intelligence system



Recently, South Africa, first time in the world, has granted a patent to an ‘artificial intelligence system’ relating to a “food container based on fractal geometry” innovation.

  • The innovation involves interlocking food containers that are easy for robots to grasp and stack.


What’s the issue now?

  • The patent has been given to an artificial intelligence (AI) system (called DABUS); not a human being.

What is the DABUS?

  • DABUS stands for “device for the autonomous bootstrapping of unified sentience”.
  • It is an AI system created by Stephen Thaler, a pioneer in the field of AI and programming.
  • The system simulates human brainstorming and creates new inventions.
  • DABUS is a particular type of AI, often referred to as “creativity machines” because they are capable of independent and complex functioning.


What are the ‘Creativity machines’?

Creativity machines can process and critically analyse data, learning from it.

  • This process is known as machine learning.
  • Once the machine learning phase has occurred, the machine is able to “autonomously” create without human intervention.



  • The patent application listing DABUS as the inventor was filed in patent offices around the world, including the U.S., Europe, Australia, and South Africa.
  • The United States Patent and Trademark Office and the European Patent Office rejected these applications in the formal examination phase.


Why are some experts opposing this move?

They gave three reasons.

  1. First, their respective patent laws only provide for human inventors — not AI — as indicated by the use of pronouns such as “him” and “her” in their text.
  2. Second, ideas, for the purposes of patents, require the element of “mental conception” — something of which only a human mind is capable.
  3. Finally, inventorship comes with rights, which AI is not legally capable of possessing.



Prelims Link:

  1. What is machine learning?
  2. What are creativity machines?
  3. What is DABUS?
  4. What are IPs?
  5. Types of intellectual property rights.

Mains Link:

Comment on the implications of  latest move by South Africa.

Sources: the Hindu.