Can Machines Invent New Things Without Human Help? Yes, They Already Have

Artificial intelligence may speed up the process of invention while cutting expenses and increasing the technical breadth of discoveries. Can machines even invent new things without human help? Yes, they already have.

Can Machines Invent New Things Without Human Help Yes They Already Have

Since the very inception of computing, there has been a debate about whether artificial intelligence is capable of invention. Ada Lovelace, a Victorian mathematician, is credited with creating what is usually regarded as the first computer program. She pondered the capabilities of computers as she went along.

Regarding what is possibly the first general-purpose programmable computer, Lovelace wrote the following in 1843:

 The Analytical Engine has no pretensions to originate anything. It can do whatever we know how to order it to perform. It can follow analysis; but it has no power of anticipating any analytical relations or truths. Its province is to assist us in making available what we are already acquainted with.

Since then, the AI industry has been plagued by this claim. Computers just carry out our instructions, as many detractors will point out.

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Ada Lovelace worked alongside Charles Babbage, who designed and partly built (as pictured) the Analytical Engine – considered the first mechanical computer. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

One of the pioneers of the electronic computer, Alan Turing, revisited the question a century after Ada Lovelace argued against the advent of machine invention. What is usually regarded as the first scientific publication (read below) on AI was written by Turing in 1950. He attempted to disprove Lovelace’s objection in it:

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Who can be certain that ‘original work’ that he has done was not simply the growth of the seed planted in him by teaching, or the effect of following well-known general principles. A better variant of the objection says that a machine can never ‘take us by surprise’. This statement is a more direct challenge and can be met directly. Machines take me by surprise with great frequency.

This remains the same. These days, technology constantly surprises us. Consider the new ChatGPT chatbot from OpenAI as an illustration. There is growing evidence that AI can assist people in inventing, and in certain instances, it may even be the actual inventor.

AI inventions

The issue of whether machines can invent is currently being discussed in tax courts all around the world. Two ideas in which a neural network is credited as the sole creator have been submitted for patent protection by Stephen Thaler, a co-founder of Scentient.ai.

Nearly all jurisdictions have rejected these applications, typically on the basis that an inventor must be a human. However, none of the court cases to far have put Thaler’s assertion that the computer is the lone inventor to the test.

3D circuits

The 1980s saw the invention of several cutting-edge 3D circuits by AI researcher Douglas Lenat’s Eurisko system (eurisko is Greek for “I discover”). Regarding one of these, a provisional US patent application was even submitted.

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The X-Band Antenna of the ST5 Satellite was found with genetic programming, an AI-based automatic programming technique.

Strange aerials

John Koza, a computer scientist, developed various unique devices beginning in the 1990s using genetic programming, including some quite peculiar radio antennae that resembled bent paperclips. Since one of these aerials was used by NASA’s ST5 spacecraft, it is most likely the first artificial intelligence invention in orbit.

A toothbrush

Despite the fact that it isn’t better mousetrap, in 1998 the Oral-B CrossAction Toothbrush was designed by the abovementioned Stephen Thaler in a brainstorming session with a neural network.

Antibiotics

More recently, a potent new antibiotic molecule called Halicin was identified by Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists using a deep neural network. The legendary AI computer HAL from Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey inspired the name Halicin. AI-based approaches are being used by numerous businesses with financing in the billions of dollars for medication development.

AI innovation seems to be here to stay.

Is AI ‘inventing’?

The abstract concept underlying how AI programs can invent is straightforward. You describe a conceptual space, and the program explores it. The space is usually exceedingly large, possibly limitless. As a result, much work must be expended in determining whether a portion of the area is worth further investigation, as well as in confirming any promise of a novel notion.

For example, the universe of conceptions could be all the different ways to bend a straight aerial. The problem is to identify which of the infinite number of ways has the best electromagnetic characteristics.

Now what?

It is plausible that AI will soon change how we invent, just as it is already changing other facets of our lives. We must carefully consider how the innovation system will adjust to these developments. AI may speed up the process of invention, cut costs, and improve the technical sophistication of new discoveries.

Will the inventions produced by AI systems require a new type of intellectual property to be protected? Or will patent offices be overrun with new patent requests for inventions made possible by (or with the help of) AI?

According to a retired professor of computer science at Oregon State University today’s large neural network artificial intelligence are already slightly conscious.

Read the document below:

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Nanotechnology is injected at the time of synthetic mRNA vaccination, yet Pfizer’s mRNA vaccination was made by Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci who are the ‘dream couple’ behind BioNTech-Pfizer’s experimental Covid-19 vaccine, created in an afternoon, on a computer – so who designed the nanotechnology injected, this couple or a computer – the nanotechnology which works at a cellular level and cannot be seen without an electron microscope, doing whatever it is doing, inside the bodies of the vaccinated and my take on that is, we don’t have the scientific advancement, to be able to design and create that sort of advanced technology, so if we don’t then it must be a computer which did it.
    Which begs the question, which came first, the Chicken or its Egg?

  2. As usual to sensationalize things for marketing gimmick as the next big thing is a tradition and culture of the west without any sustainability..all I can say is “history repeating” itself. If one closely look at the evidences world over these technologies existed but we are so blind in the so called modern world…due to our arrogance and education that instead of moving forward we have been deliberately kept in a state of collective memory loss to be exposed to selected technology which is more based on domination rather exploration. AI in true sense will come into prominence the day humans are able to work with water..as water holds memory and that will be the time when AI will be able to understand and laugh at jokes prior to that these are little big steps to that direction….

  3. Intellectual property laws are for humans. Right now, there seems to be legal incentives to claim a computer invented something. Clarify that computers have no natural rights, then anything invented by a computer cannot be protected by intellectual property laws. Then watch the humans claim their inventions.

  4. Or maybe the ‘nanobots in vaccines’ story is just another fantasy from the insaniacs who call themselves scientists these days, ones that certain political activists fundede by billionaire psychopath control – freaks are trying to use to advance their various agendas.
    Machines cannot create, consciousness is required for creativity and consciousness is not yet understood so it cannot possibly be included in a computers programming. A big part of the problem is the script kiddies in the computer industry these days cannot write programs from scratch as we did in the past (my first program was loaded from punched paper tape and ran on a machine that was ‘booted’ by operators setting arrays of bootstrap switches,) and have little understanding of how computers work. All they do is cobble together chunks of pre – written code with scripts of Python, Java or some similar high level language.

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