In an age where consumers can book online to visit a doctor, conduct an eTrial and communicate with providers 24/7, it is crucial that IP and law services start to transact digitally.

As patent engineers and trade mark attorneys, the inception of AI is a hot topic at social gatherings. Notwithstanding genuine curiosity and interest, the enquirer is really after information on the latest technological and scientific developments in the IP world. Fortunately for the enquirer, we are at liberty to discuss AI patents which we drafted, prosecuted or opposed which are in the public domain.

Although AI is not a new phenomenon, there have been recent exponential developments in the IP sector. AI operates to mimic human operations, complete tasks through self-learning and display critical thinking. A great example of AI integrating into the workforce is manufacturing. What was once a human operated assembly line is now entirely automated in some warehouses. Robots can build cars and other everyday products with greater precision, and to the Bosses benefit, never need to take a sick day or weekend off.

Wireless and satellite communications technology (e.g. GPS for us lay people), has advanced beyond Google maps and is now a fundamental tool in agricultural crop management. The crops are sown, irrigated and harvested by harvesting machines without operators actually driving them. While the pinnacle of progress in AI and automation is said to be in the medical field, where robotic and telemetric surgery is the current state of art, it is not difficult to imagine a world where surgical tasks are performed entirely by an industrial robot.

If a computer numerical control (CNC) machine can be programmed to cut all types of material precisely and sophisticatedly, what really is stopping a robot ‘surgeon’ from being programmed to make equally accurate incisions in human skin, flesh or bone (or a brain)?

I can hear you say “but medicine always requires a human physician or surgeon to diagnose and determine how the procedure is to be performed.” But if you boil it right down, medical diagnosis is really a problem-solution exercise based on experience, knowledge and statistical outcomes.

Why then can AI not use its machine learning algorithms to pull data and analyze the information to diagnose, in an identical or substantially similar fashion, as a doctor?

I was a biomedical scientist in earlier life where I had to attend and participate in various medical procedures. I had the fortune of observing a renowned vascular surgeon who had a pronounced intention tremor in his hands. In spite of his hands shaking, he had the ability to cut, rapidly clear and suture the artery with stitches worthy of an experienced Belgian lacemaker. It may be challenging, but I believe not impossible to develop a machine to emulate this surgeon’s skill.

Prosthetic and robotic medicine is another rapidly advancing area. With the rapid rise in 3D printing technology, both internal and external body parts can now be created in the laboratory. Surgical implants such as stents for blood vessels, artificial tissues and organs, orthopedic implants and more comfortable and realistic prosthetic limbs are all a result of developments in 3D printing technology.

How will AI impact our everyday lives?

This is the question I am always asked. The integration of AI technology within every aspect of human life, based on personal choices has given rise to IP and information technology (IT).

For the military, information gathered by unmanned surveillance aircrafts such as, drones of enemy location, geography and terrain could be processed to determine opposing troop movement and position. AI could be used to ultimately calculate strength of response and combat strategy which would effectively remove and eliminate human whim or error in making battlefield decisions.

GPS navigation, voice control, biometric identification, recognition and memory of specific physical attributes are examples of AI already used in automobiles. Pre- programmed seat and steering wheel position, air conditioning setting, infotainment and telecommunication requirements can now be automatically set to suit a particular driver. No doubt, the same can be extended to suit each individual passenger. Presently, electric driverless cars are the immediate frontier and an obvious result of developments in automotive AI, automation and battery storage technology.

While it is natural to appreciate and applaud man’s impressive and recent progress in technology and intellectual achievement, I wonder to what end this will lead us.

AI and automation are meant to make life easier but is it actually doing this?

In the near future, if not already, only a few workers will be required to operate these machines and even fewer scientists and engineers needed to develop them.

The same observation can be made of the present march towards alternative and renewable energy. It appears these environmental solutions have not considered the human cost of future unemployment (or underemployment). Do they assume they will all be employed in the renewable energy sector and by whom?

The answer should, of course, lie in new and yet to be discovered applications of AI (and automation).

  • The luddites of the industrial revolution found to their dismay, the Newcomen and Watt steam engines actually gave rise to new industrial and engineering achievements.
  • Stephenson’s “Rocket” spawned a complete English railway system.
  • Factories equipped with steam engines, overhead pulleys and leather drive belts drove manufacturing to a new level.

Likewise, I suspect that AI, battery technology, renewable energy and 3D printing will give rise to yet undisclosed inventions.

📲 Feel free to contact Aspides for further information on Intellectual Property Protection and what areas of your business need to be assessed.

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By: Jaime Massang, Alex Hatzis & Tasha Aloni.

Aspides Patent, Trade Mark and Design Attorneys.