Report shows rapid growth of AI patent applications led by deep learning models
Deep learning models of artificial intelligence that is the basis for speech recognition and many advanced biometric technologies is the fastest growing AI technique as measured by patent applications, with a 175 percent average growth rate in applications, according to research by The World International Property Organization (WIPO).
The inaugural “WIPO Technology Trends” shows a 20-fold increase from 118 applications for deep learning patents in 2013 to 2,399 in 2016, the last full year for which figures are available due to filing confidentiality rules. Machine learning, and in particular neural networks, is the most common AI technique in patents, but is growing by a relatively modest 28 percent per year. Technology patents in general increased over the same period by 10 percent per year.
Computer vision, which includes image recognition and self-driving applications, as well as facial recognition, is mentioned in 49 percent of AI patents, making it the most popular AI application.
Innovators and researchers have filed applications for almost 340,000 AI-related inventions since the field emerged in the 1950s. Of that number, more than half have been published since 2013, demonstrating the massive growth of the subject.
“Patenting activity in the artificial intelligence realm is rising at a rapid pace, meaning we can expect a very significant number of new AI-based products, applications and techniques that will alter our daily lives – and also shape future human interaction with the machines we created,” says WIPO Director General Francis Gurry.
The largest portfolio of AI patents is held by IBM, with 8,290 at the close of 2016. Other top AI patent-holders include Microsoft with 5,930, Toshiba with 5,223, Samsung with 5,102, and NEC with 4,406. There are also four academic institutions in the top 30, three of which are from China. The report also examines the growth of AI by sector.
“The first step in maximizing the widespread benefit of AI, while addressing ethical, legal and regulatory challenges, is to create a common factual basis for understanding of artificial intelligence,” Gurry argues. “In unveiling the first in our ‘WIPO Technology Trends’ series, WIPO is pleased to contribute evidence-based projections, thereby informing global policymaking on the future of AI, its governance and the IP framework that supports it.”