The team is joined by Guest Kats Rosie Burbidge, Stephen Jones, Mathilde Pavis, and Eibhlin Vardy, and by InternKats Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo, Hayleigh Bosher, Tian Lu and Cecilia Sbrolli.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

AIPPI Congress Report 13: The Business of IP: Big Data, Big Issues

I am not "big" -
I am just a collocation of
large sets of fur
How big is your data? If you ever pondered how big is "big" and where the future of Big Data is leading, you are in luck - AusKat Tom Reid (Accenture) reports from the Big Data session at the AIPPI World Congress in Sydney.  
"The sixth panel session at AIPPI’s Sydney Congress, moderated by my co-Guest Kat Warwick Rothnie, focused on issues for IP law raised by “Big Data”—a term arguably dating from as early as 1989.
The question for debate was whether existing IP rights sufficiently protect the interests of those in industry who create and use Big Data, but discussion moved quickly into the related topics of AI and the Internet of Things.
The session opened with a presentation by video from the European Data Privacy Supervisor, Giovanni Butarelli, pointing out some of the difficulties raised by the intersection between such interests and other rights, not least the rights of individuals in relation to personal information.  Mr Butarelli also noted the problems raised for democracies by reliance on Big Data to generate news content, particularly filter bubbles (the tendency of some online algorithms to serve up news by reference to a user’s prior reading or viewing habits, resulting in a progressive narrowing of news topics and the elimination of competing views), and fake news resulting from the automated propagation, via algorithm-powered media, of an originally untrue story.
Dr Benjamin Mitra-Kahn, Chief Economist at Australia’s IP registration authority, IP Australia, pointed out the ways in which we all trade in personal information—including when, as consumers, we routinely trade our information about ourselves for some monetary or other benefit, such as a supermarket discount card.  Dr Mitra-Kahn raised the question of whether, from an economic perspective, the market in such information is fairly balanced: he asked whether a consumer who is required to disclose personal information to get access to a service really has a practical choice, including where the service is technically discretionary but is routine or convenient.  Neatly, he used the AIPPI conference app, which requested personal information to register, as an example.
Tina Chappell, Associate General Counsel and Director of Intellectual Property Policy for Intel Corporation, focused on the advent of artificial intelligence as a logical evolution of Big Data, supported by simultaneous—and still continuing—advances in connectivity and computing power.  In this, she was supported by Dr Mitra-Kahn, who had begun his presentation by announcing that the age of Big Data is over, and that the age of AI is upon us.  Ms Chappell defined AI as the ability for systems to sense, reason, act, and adapt, and compared the effects she expects from the growth in prevalence and sophistication of AIs to the agricultural, industrial, and digital revolutions, being, according to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, “the next major turning point in human history”.  Among her predictions, she told the panel audience to expect 50 billion connected devices by 2020, and an AI market worth US$96 billion by 2025—and US$290 billion by 2035.  For lawyers already nervous about a tight legal market, Ms Chappell had the happy news that an AI had recently been able to successfully predict the outcome of 70% of 7,700 US Supreme Court cases decided between 1953 and 2013, based on text analytics.  While the current number might be only 20% better than chance, it will no doubt improve.
Kenichi Nagasawa, Head of IP at Canon Inc, focused on the allied area of the “Internet of Things”.  He pointed to the increasing importance of standards-essential patents to the technologies that enable the IoT, including 4G, video compression standards, and wireless communication protocols.  According to Mr Nagasawa, the convergence of technologies brought about by the IoT will bring participants in traditionally separate industries into contact and potential conflict over IP rights.
Questions focused on the fascinating question of AIs as… IP creators.  If an AI generates an invention entirely by itself (and potentially is the first even to identify the problem solved by its invention), do we reward anyone with a monopoly, and if so, who?  Panellists here pointed to the well-known macaque photo debate as an analogy.  On the other side of the coin, can an AI infringe, and in what circumstances should a human being be held responsible for that infringement?  (Readers might be tempted to think the question premature, but Ms Chappell’s presentation mentioned a case where Swiss police had “arrested”—or perhaps just confiscated—a robot that had bought ecstasy pills online as part of an art installation about the dark web.)
Dr Mitra-Kahn had perhaps the best answer: when chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov lost to Deep Blue in 1997, he didn’t stop playing chess—he began training with a computer.  So the future probably belongs, at least initially, to teams comprising both human beings and AIs, and the challenge for IP policy makers will be to establish rules on how much human involvement is required for a monopoly right to subsist."

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