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Irony meets Satire, gives birth to Patent

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08/22/2004

Ethical artificial intelligence patented:

The patent, Inductive Inference Affective Language Analyzer Simulating AI (# 6,587,846) introduces the concept of the Ten Ethical Laws of Robotics. According to a statement from inventor John LaMuth, the patent represents “the first AI system incorporating ethical/motivational terms, enabling a computer to reason and speak ethically, serving in roles specifying sound human judgment.”

I call first dibs on patenting creative artificial intelligence as well as rhyme and reason. The real gems are not just the rubber-stamps at the USPTO but the artificially and vaguely defined virtues and vices (can someone say openended?).

A fun thought Based upon the four civil liberties LaMuth devised (providence, liberty, civility and austerity) one wonders that if/when such a hair-brained scheme comes into fruition, will the robot(s) close down the Patent office? After all, it could be argued that State-enforced trade monopolies violate their robotic ethos and correspond to the vices: prodigality, slavery, vulgarity and cruelty. Also, are the families of Hammurabi or Moses entitled to some royalties? 

Note: to defend against accusations of being ignorant on this manner, I would like to point out that the USPTO granted the monopoly on the claimed invention, not statements that are made in the description - the description just has to enable what is claimed. In the words of Stephan Kinsella, "you only have to have a tiny amount of utility for patent purposes, and novelty, and non-obviousness." And the patent apparently fits that bill. Via Slashdot. Special thanks to Jesse Ogden for letting me steal his idea.

Robert Blumen is an independent enterprise software consultant based in San Francisco.

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