DABUS, an AI that created two patentable products, is now a patent itself

An early flowchart for what would become the DABUS system. (imagination-engines.com)

An AI system at the center of a legal debate over patents has made the issue more interesting by becoming a patent itself.

DABUS, short for "Device for the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentience," is another name for a technology patent awarded to Stephen L. Thaler and his company, Imagination Engines Inc., on September 24.

In a blog post announcing the patent grant, the company wrote that DABUS is a new kind of neural net system that "teaches how machines may generate the equivalent of subjective feelings." It does so by developing concepts that its inventors say act like memories that can be evoked again and again during the machine learning process.

"The result of such swings in artificial emotion is that ideas ripen over time," wrote Ryan Abbott, a professor of law and health sciences and member of Imagination Engines.

The patent was originally filed in 2015. According to the Imagination Engines website, the underlying system design has been under development since the company's first patent, filed in 1994, which had a similar name: "Device for the autonomous generation of useful information."

DABUS and its inventors made the news earlier in 2019 after a legal debate erupted over whether the DABUS itself could be listed as an inventor on two products it created.

DABUS and the debate over AI inventions

DABUS's developers want to list the AI system as an inventor on two patent filings. They're in for a long legal debate. Read more →