Adapting Intellectual Property Law For AI Governance


The rapidly evolving and expanding use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology is outpacing regulatory and policy efforts to guide its ethical use.

In a Policy Forum, Cason Schmit and colleagues propose a new approach to AI regulation, which involves leveraging two existing legal tools used to manage intellectual property (IP) rights – copyleft licensing and patent trolling. They call their approach CAITE (Copyleft AI with Trusted Enforcement).

The swift development and widespread adoption of AI technology have consistently outpaced regulatory oversight, which has largely resulted in insufficient policy. However, given AI’s potential impact on nearly every aspect of daily life, regulation ensuring its appropriate and ethical use is sorely needed.

To address this need, Schmit et al. propose adapting legal frameworks and mechanisms borrowed from IP law to produce a new and nuanced system of enforcement of ethics in AI applications and training datasets.

By combining “copyleft licensing,” which is traditionally used to enable widespread sharing of created content, and the “patent troll” model, which is often criticized for stifling technological development, Schmit et al. develop the CAITE governance model for ethical AI.

Under the CAITE model, AI products and any derivatives based upon them would be bound by a set of ethical terms and conditions. Enforcement of Ethical Use Licenses would be assigned to a central trusted entity, which ideally would be led by a community-designated, nongovernment group of AI developers and users.

According to the authors, the CAITE system both incentivizes and enforces ethical AI practices in a way that is flexible and community-driven, which could provide soft law support for traditional government oversight.

As a supplement to the Policy Forum, Schmit asked ChatGPT (an AI chatbot) to provide insights into how ethical AI use should be governed. While the output provided a reasonable summary of important considerations, the AI glossed over the more difficult questions, like how governance should be implemented.

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