February 18, 2019
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China, US lead in Artificial Intelligence innovation, Europe limps behind

 Australian Francis Gurry, General Director of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), informs the media about the Launch of WIPO's 2018 World Intellectual Property Indicators (WIPI) report during a press conference, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Dec. 3, 2018. EPA-EFE FILE/SALVATORE DI NOLFI

Australian Francis Gurry, General Director of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), informs the media about the Launch of WIPO's 2018 World Intellectual Property Indicators (WIPI) report during a press conference, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Dec. 3, 2018. EPA-EFE FILE/SALVATORE DI NOLFI

Geneva, Jan 31 (efe-epa).- China and the United States are the global leaders when it comes to the development of Artificial Intelligence products that take on human-like processes, leaving Europe trailing behind in the race to patent inventions in the sector, a report published by the World Intellectual Property Organization on Thursday said.

WIPO's "Technology Trends" study — which measures innovation in AI by documenting the number of AI-related patents logged and research papers published — has documented a significant shift within the AI sector, which up until very recently was strictly theoretical in nature, towards an upsurge in AI products and inventions permeating the marketplace, with US companies IBM and Microsoft leading the way.

"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," said Francis Gurry, WIPO's director general.

The study said over 340,000 AI patent applications were logged globally since the science first emerged in the 1950s.

There were as many AI patent applications logged between the 1950s-2013 as there were between 2013-2016, which points to a shift within AI towards applying the theory and creating actual products.

The US has applied for 152,981 AI patents in its history, China has logged 137,010 applications and Japan, sealing its third place as a recognized tech giant, recorded 83,197 applications.

Europe, on the other hand, is lagging behind when it comes to innovation in AI, with Germany, Europe's innovation power-house when it comes to technology, in fifth place with 26,287 patent applications.

Other European states, such as the United Kingdom, France or Spain, trail behind technology-fueled economies in Asia — South Korea and Taiwan — and Canada and Australia.

Gurry is of the view that China and the US are leading the AI technology race due to the fact the sector is nourished by "big data" — vast data sets that when analyzed reveal trends and patterns, often in relation to human behavior and interactions — that can be incredibly useful for the development of new technologies.

The WIPO report suggests that the cultural and linguistic diversity in Europe does not favor the creation of enormous databases, and in that respect, the US and China have a clear advantage.

When looking at the data in the WIPO report, it becomes immediately apparent that those driving innovation in AI are primarily American technology giants, with IBM heading the league-board with 8,290 patents, followed by Microsoft with 5,930, and Japanese firm Toshiba and South Korean multinational Samsung following close behind.

"AI's ramifications for the future of human development are profound. 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. 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," Gurry said in the report.

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