While the planet continues to watch the development of the covid-19, the United States has just won another battle against China in the "war" of geopolitical and technological interests. This time, the goal was to become the head of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
The candidate who had the US backing, Daren Tang, born in Singapore, prevailed on March 5 on the Chinese candidate, Wang Binying. One of the main challenges that the new head of the organization will have - in the next six years - will be adapting the system of patents and trademarks to a new era of innovation led by renewed technological phenomena, such as artificial intelligence or the development of robotization in new productive sectors.
Tang, chief executive of his country's Patent Office, will have to be confirmed at the general assembly that the agency is scheduled for May 7 to 8, and would assume the position as of September 30, when Australian Francis leaves office. Gurry. Although China lost the possibility of directing WIPO, its participation in the world patent registry is dominant: half of the global patent applications (1.54 million out of 3 million) came - until 2018 - from the Asian giant. In addition, the multinational with the most patent applications related to technology was in fact the Chinese Huawei, with 5,405 filings, doubling the figures of the second applicant, the Japanese Mitsubishi (2,812) and the third, the American Intel (2,499 requests).
"The patenting activity in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) is advancing rapidly, so it is foreseeable that there will be a very important number of new products, applications and techniques based on AI, which will transform our daily activities," he points out. the current Director General of WIPO, Francis Gurry.
The sectors that experienced the highest growth rates in patent applications related to artificial intelligence -in the previous decade- were agriculture, banking and finance, computer science applied to digital government, the practice of law and transport , among the most important.
Within economic activities, the areas that develop the fastest are aerospace and aeronautics, which grew by an average of 67% between 2013 and 2016; followed by smart cities (47%), autonomous vehicles (42%), customer service (38%) and affective computing, which allows machines to recognize the feelings of human beings (37%).
Without a doubt, the data shown by WIPO reflects the rapid growth of AI innovation. This trend and its accelerated development pose a series of political challenges to governments and regulatory entities.
These challenges include the use and protection of personal data, the development of standards and the disclosure of information, how to finance innovation, the regulation of new technologies and even the risk of highly advanced AI - which some have Called 'superintelligence' - it may pose a threat to human existence.
Just as intellectual property does not escape the spectrum and benefits of artificial intelligence, neither does it escape the challenges and serious questions that come with it. Given this, the consultant in technological matters, Miguel Ángel Margaín, in a publication of El Universal de México, sets the stage that this AI, with the passage of time and the acceleration of Revolution 4.0, could also come to 'create , design and invent. ' "This is a serious questioning, for a simple and simple reason: in accordance with current doctrine and regulations, only natural persons, that is, human beings, can be considered authors, designers and inventors."
The ability of robots to create or invent autonomously is shaking some of the pillars on which the general rules of intellectual property rest, which only provides for the protection of creations developed by humans.
Not long ago, the 'creative activity' of machines was not an issue that sparked debate, as it was a complement to people's work. But with the emergence of AI, legal dilemmas now arise: can a robot be the author of something; Or is it the creator of the algorithm or the person who operates that machine? And in that case, who owns the intellectual property?
At a conference in Washington on February 5, the Director of WIPO stated that “the greatest challenge, in addition to the regulatory challenge ... will be how we will know what is an automatic creation and what is a human creation. I have no answer for that. " Therefore, this topic becomes one of the greatest challenges that his successor will have.
WIPO currently manages 26 multilateral treaties, which are the legal structure of the system, and one of the great challenges is to keep those treaties updated and adopt new norms that address unregulated issues.
In this situation, actions are already being taken. The European Union, for example, is looking at new requirements that would be legally binding on AI developers, in an attempt to ensure that modern technology is developed and used ethically.
Given this, the European Commission presented last February the so-called Blanco White Paper ’, with action proposals issued from various sectors of the 27 member countries. From this initiative, it is hoped to achieve - until the end of the year - more concrete legislative proposals on the adaptation to this technology and its implementation in the block. Of course, if until that date the covid-19 allows it.