All in innovation

There are innumerable examples of other ways in which information technology has caused changes in the existing legislative structures. The law is naturally elastic, and can be expanded or amended to adapt to the new circumstances created by technological advancement. The continued development of artificial intelligence, however, may challenge the expansive character of the law because it presents an entirely novel situation. To begin with, artificial intelligence raises philosophical questions concerning the nature of the minds of human beings. These philosophical questions are connected to legal and ethical issues of creating machines that are programmed to possess the qualities that are innate and unique to human beings. If machines can be built to behave like humans, then they must be accorded some form of legal personality, similar to that which humans have. At the very least, the law must make provision for the changes that advanced artificial intelligence will cause in the society through the introduction of a new species capable of rational, logical thought. By deriving general guidelines based on the case law of the past, it should aid the lawmakers to close the gap on technological singularity.

The fuzziness of software patents’ boundaries has already turned the ICT industry into one colossal turf war. The expanding reach of IP has introduced more and more possibilities for opportunistic litigation (suing to make a buck). In the US, two-thirds of all patent law suits are currently over software, with 2015 seeing more patent lawsuits filed than any other year before. Of the high-tech cases, more than 88% involved non-practicing entities (NPEs). These include two charmlessly evolving species who’s entire business model is lawsuits—patent trolls and sample trolls. These are corporations that don’t actually create anything, they simply acquire a library of intellectual property rights and then litigate to earn profits (and because legal expenses are millions of dollars, their targets usually highly motivated to settle out of court). And the patent trolls are most common back in the troubled realm of software. The estimated wealth loss in the US alone is $500,000,000,000 (that’s a lot of zeros).