National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence Final Report: A Bag Full of Hammers?

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A Double-Edged Sword 

This month, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence issued its findings in a final report.[1]  While AI has already begun to realize some of its staggering potential to help humankind and advance technology, the report notes, it presents perhaps an equally great potential as a destructive force.[2]  Although the report describes “the rapidly improving ability of computer systems to solve problems and to perform tasks that would otherwise require human intelligence” as “world-altering,” the focus of the report is not on the ways in which such profound change might produce economic or societal upheaval.[3] Rather, the report describes the potential harm as largely originating from AI’s power as a weapon in the hands of potentially hostile parties, particularly China and Russia.[4]  These threats range from cyberattacks and improved military technology to a generalized acceleration in technological development which Artificial Intelligence may facilitate, and which threatens to eliminate America’s own technological advantage over international competitors.[5]  Thus, the report recommends a strong push by the United States to foster development of AI within the country.

AI and Intellectual Property

Regarding intellectual property, the report notes that, in contrast to China, “[t]he U.S. has not developed comprehensive IP policies to incentivize investments in and protect the creation of artificial intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies.”[6]  Interestingly for patent practitioners and holders, the report counts among the failures of the U.S. the courts’ curtailment of “what types of computer-implemented and biotech-related inventions can be protected under U.S. patent law.”[7]  The report recommends the President to “issue an executive order to recognize IP as a national priority and require the development of a comprehensive plan to reform and create IP policies and regimes that further national security, economic interests, and technology competitiveness strategies.”[8]  The report may thus be seen as adding another potentially significant voice to calls for reform regarding software and biotechnological patents.

Looking Ahead

Whether patent reform is imminent or not, Artificial Intelligence patents are an increasingly important part of the IP landscape, becoming ubiquitous across industries as surely as the technology they protect.  As much as anything else, the report that has just issued underscores how crucial AI and AI patents have become to the innovation economy.

It will be interesting to watch how this report is received, and whether it will start a new round of legislative or executive action to drive further patent reform.

This article is the third part in a series on intellectual property strategies surrounding the artificial intelligence landscape. You can read part two in our series here: Artificial Intelligence and Patents: Inventing Inventors 

[1] https://www.nscai.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Full-Report-Digital-1.pdf

[2] Id. pp.1-2

[3] Id. p. 9

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Id. p. 203

[7] Id.

[8] Id. p. 207

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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