The Boundaries of AI: Patent Invention and the Power of Multidisciplinary Learning


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Aug 24, 2023

3 min read


The Boundaries of AI: Patent Invention and the Power of Multidisciplinary Learning


In recent news, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has made a significant ruling that AI software cannot be listed as an inventor on a US patent. This decision came as a response to a legal challenge by Dr. Stephen Thaler, who filed patent applications with an AI program named "DABUS" as the inventor. The court's ruling is based on the definition of "inventor" in the Patent Act, which specifies that the inventor must be a "natural person." While this ruling may seem straightforward, it raises important questions about the role of AI in innovation and the future of patent protection.

The Definition of "Inventor" and the Role of AI:

The court's decision to exclude AI software as inventors is rooted in the legal definition of the term "inventor." The Patent Act states that an inventor must be an "individual," as defined by the Supreme Court. This definition limits the scope of inventorship to human beings and excludes machines, animals, and software. While this ruling may disappoint proponents of AI-driven innovation, it highlights the need for a clear distinction between human creativity and machine capabilities in the patent system.

Challenges in Defining AI as an Inventor:

One of the key challenges in defining AI as an inventor lies in determining the level of involvement and autonomy the AI possesses in the creative process. If AI is merely used as a tool to aid in inventing, similar to traditional inventions, it does not negate the claim of inventorship. However, when the role of AI surpasses that of a tool and becomes the primary source of invention, it raises questions about the eligibility of patent protection. This distinction between tool and inventor is crucial in understanding the limitations of AI in the patent landscape.

The Multidisciplinary Advantage and Breakthrough Success:

While AI may face restrictions in patent inventorship, its potential for aiding human inventors should not be overlooked. Learning across multiple fields, as exemplified by polymaths like Elon Musk, has shown to increase the odds of breakthrough success. The founders of the world's largest companies, such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, Larry Page, and Jeff Bezos, were all polymaths who embraced the concept of continuous learning. By venturing into unfamiliar territories, they gained the ability to make unique combinations that eluded those deeply entrenched in a single field.

The Importance of Curiosity and Diverse Perspectives:

Curiosity is a driving force behind acquiring multidisciplinary knowledge. It allows individuals to question existing paradigms and explore the mysteries of various subjects. Albert Einstein once said, "The important thing is not to stop questioning." By developing a habit of mastering multiple models that underlie reality, individuals can deepen their understanding and craft their own unique combinations. Examining diverse cases and perspectives when learning anything enables us to grasp what is essential and develop a more comprehensive understanding.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace Multidisciplinary Learning: Don't limit yourself to a single field of expertise. Explore unrelated subjects to broaden your understanding and make unique connections that others may overlook.
  • 2. Cultivate Curiosity: Foster a sense of curiosity and never stop questioning. This mindset will fuel your desire to explore new ideas and challenge existing norms.
  • 3. Master Multiple Models: Instead of relying solely on a single framework, strive to understand multiple models that underlie reality. This approach will enhance your problem-solving abilities and enable you to think in unique ways.


The recent court ruling regarding AI inventorship in patents sheds light on the boundaries between human creativity and machine capabilities. While AI software cannot be listed as inventors, their potential as tools for innovation remains significant. Embracing multidisciplinary learning, cultivating curiosity, and mastering multiple models can empower individuals to achieve breakthrough success. By combining these actionable advice with a clear understanding of the limitations and possibilities of AI, we can navigate the evolving landscape of technological innovation and intellectual property.

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