South Africa grants patent to an artificial intelligence system

  • Recently, South Africa, first time in the world, has granted a patent to an ‘artificial intelligence system’ relating to a “food container based on fractal geometry” innovation. The innovation 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 U.S., 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).
  • Creativity machines: Creativity machines can process and critically analyse data, learning from it. This process is known as machine learning. Once the machine learning phase has occurred, the machine is able to “autonomously” create without human intervention. As has been seen in the Covid pandemic, as just one example, AI is able to solve problems humans were unable to — and also much faster than people can.