My Robot makes more money than I do!

Henrik and I have some interesting conversations regarding robotics and artificial intelligence – hence this page. However, he recently pointed me to this article which caused me some real alarm as well as an ethical dilemma.

From Art to Artificial Intelligence

Which was also reposted on LinkedIN…some reason I take it more seriously when that happens. Don’t know why. Anyway, this quick read perplexed me to a great extent since I am also a painter and have programmed Robots with AI to paint for me.  Allowing me more free time to contemplate how to spend the vast sums of money these little beauties would be generating 24/7. Like bitcoin mining only with acrylic paint and some machine learning. (see: gravy train with biscuit wheels)

Now the common notion of getting machines to do work for you, as mentioned in the article by Paul Sweeting:

“There is a broad, although not universally shared, consensus among legal experts that under U.S. copyright law, non-human actors, whether machine or monkey, cannot be considered to own a copyright.”

I’m totally cool with this interpretation of legal copyright status in regards to robots or non-human actors.  Though not as cool with the term monkey…why monkey? Why not bears? Hmmm, I could just be being a little sensitive here. I like monkeys and would happily give the little bastard money just to see what it would do with cash.

Sorry, tangent. Where was I? Yeah.

I’m down with the common consensus.  Robots don’t need copyrights, what the hell would they do with it, right? Robots and AI are not motivated by money so giving them money would be like granting bears patents for tiny tricycles, no? (see what I did there?)

But then Paul also goes on to ask:

But that still leaves a host of vexing questions likely to occupy courts for many years. If the machine cannot own the copyright on a machine-made work, can anyone, and if so, whom? The owner of the machine? The author of the software program? The human who pushes “start”? Or, should machine-made works be considered in the public domain?

What! It’s obvious, no? There is no VEXING here. I bought the damned thing and its working for ME! I may not have programmed the software, well…in the case of my robots – yes – it’s also my programming.  But!  If I were to sell one – I am giving you the right to earn from your purchases function.* It would have a purchase of sale receipt by you, it would reside in YOUR garage, you would have to turn it on. I mean, does John Deere get any bank from the produce its tractors play a part in farming? NO, that would be nonsense – just like this notion.

So…seems like a no-brainer – your toy, your $loot-cake$.

Then Sweeting brings up this cat; KlarisLaw  and KlarisIP managing partner Edward Klaris who states:

In a world where bots may eventually dominate the creative space — manipulating, arranging, color-correcting, filming, and ordering literary, audio and visual content – courts may decide that works created without human input belong in the public domain with no protection. Or, if copyright is granted, bots’ output would be protected for potentially more than 100 years under current copyright law.  Which is better?  What path best promotes our country’s fundamental interest in “the progress of science and useful arts”? And, should copyright subsist for fewer years under certain circumstances?

What! Well hell. Ok, admittedly I felt a twinge of sympathy for artists as being constantly misused in this regard. Artists have usually been on the shit end of copyright law and misused by galleries/reps (ARGH- don’t get me started on those jackals!mumble, mumble…busted system, mumble ) Yet, those are actual artists, not a paintbrush with a synthetic brain so, really, I do not see a conflict here.

Now here comes the interesting bit…say an AI produced a vaccine that would help millions…does the same patent ownership apply here? Can the owner make insane profits by holding said copyright and making it only accessible to the very wealthy?

Hmm…ethics, right? There is no current law of ethics regarding AI or its output. In this regard, I would not argue that the copyright should be limited to a reasonable profit. Whats reasonable profit, right? One yacht, possibly two – ok I’m kidding.  I mean there needs to be some compensation here because that R&D shit ain’t free.  It takes resources, staff, equipment, facilities and maybe even experimental monkeys (there’s your damn monkeys Sweeting!). Phew…ethics. Not an easy answer since you are talking about human lives.

However, in the art scenario and since NO human lives are impacted. The similar ethical limitations do not apply therefore…

God help you, if you try to tell me that painting unit 06 owns the copyright Basquiat rip-off that I programmed it to make. For 100 YEARS! I’ll turn it into a toaster and burn the damned picture!




* If you purchased a painting unit from – check your purchase/ lease agreement before making any claims to owning the copyright on works produced.

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