At first glance, the patent submitted by Stephen Thaler , a scientist from the University of Missouri, n ‘ nothing in particular. It concerns a new type of packaging in the food industry, supposed to conserve heat better and be easier to identify and handle by machines.

Only, the inventor named in the patent filing is not Thaler himself but a certain DABUS. DABUS is actually the acronym of a machine called “Device for the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentience”: as the document specifies, “this invention was automatically generated by an artificial intelligence”.

This is in any case what claims Stephen Thaler, creator of DABUS, an AI designed to imitate human brainstorming and imagine new inventions. The scientist therefore considers that he was not the inventor of the patent imagined by his machine. For the first time in history, a patent filing authority, that of South Africa, agreed with him by recognizing that an AI could receive the maternity of an invention.

Man vs Machine If this share is historic, it is far from settling the debate on the capacity of machines to be considered inventors. Because apart from South Africa, followed shortly after by Australia , no one recognized the DABUS patent.

In Europe as in the United States, the specialized administrations refused to grant an artificial intelligence the maternity of a patent. According to them, not only do the laws allow only a human being to be considered as an inventor, but the possession of a patent above all gives access to a set of rights, which a machine cannot have.

Beyond legal questions, the case of DABUS opens up a much broader debate on the very nature of machines and the possibility of granting them copyright.

Meshandren Naidoo, intellectual property researcher author of an article on the subject , affirms that the evolutions of AI – in particular the machine learning – give the possibility for computers, once “the learning phase is finished” to “create autonomously, without human intervention. ”

Stephen Thaler has already succeeded in filing patents for inventions created by his machines, including a toothbrush design in 88 . Only at that time he had presented himself as being the inventor. The fact that a machine can give life to a genuinely new invention, as guaranteed by the patent, is sufficient here to be able to grant it the status of inventor. A change of era?