Much to the surprise of the global community, South Africa’s patent office granted a patent to an AI, recognising DABUS as an inventor.
At first glance, a recently granted South African patent relating to a “food container based on fractal geometry” seems fairly mundane. The innovation in question involves interlocking food containers that are easy for robots to grasp and stack.
On closer inspection, the patent is anything but mundane. That’s because the inventor is not a human being – it is an artificial intelligence (AI) system called DABUS.
DABUS (which stands for “device for the autonomous bootstrapping of unified sentience”) 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. This differs from everyday AI like Siri, the “voice” of Apple’s iPhones.
The patent application listing DABUS as the inventor was filed in patent offices around the world, including the US, Europe, Australia, and South Africa. But only South Africa granted the patent (Australia followed suit a few days later after a court judgment gave the go-ahead).
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