Same Kind of Questions: AI and Copyright

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is quickly evolving down a path that requires less input from humans and makes more decisions based on algorithms that mimic the way the human mind thinks. In times past, AI processes directly reflected the programmer’s input. But now, decisions are based on complex data input that is weighed by a preference for certain decisions based on current conditions. It’s easy to see how robotic actions are no longer just a product of mindless programming.

AI and Copyright

There now exist robots that are able to construct detailed portraits based on data gathered from Renaissance art, compose music and write journalistic articles for news outlets. This raises a concern for those invested in the field of AI. Is the work of a robot considered grounds on which copyright law is applicable? Copyright protects the original works of individuals. But a robot is not an individual. Regardless of how advanced they may be, robots are still cumbersome devices that use simple methods from programming to make decisions. But maybe now is a good time to begin questioning the copyright boundaries. For those of us who owned the first personal computers of the 90’s, none of us would have guessed that a product of 100X the power could fit into the palm of our hand by the first decade of the 21st century.

AI and Copyright Infringement

Another question breeches the surface of robots, in their current stages of development, use human works of art to base their own creations. If a robot uses portraits of copyrighted human creations to make its own art, is that not an infringement of copyright law? There is a fuzzy line where debates ask the question; is a robot an individual creator as covered by copyright law, and what is to be said of their creations? If a robot uses musical algorithms based on the work of others to create a composition and violates the boundaries of copyright, is the robot to blame? This leads to further inquiries that question the responsibility of a robots creator. As these machines are beginning to make more and more decisions on their own, who is responsible?

The science of consciousness is still in its infant stages of understanding. We do not know how to replicate sentience, nor do we know where it originates from. That being said, as AI evolves at a full-throttle pace, goals that seem to be far off, may actually be realities of the near future. Questions that ask the responsibility and credibility of AI creations help us to organize how AI fits into society, what we expect of them, and where we draw the lines of respect, credibility, and responsibility.