Artificial intelligence is a hot topic at the moment - but what does it actually mean? 

 Definitions vary, but these include:

  • Intelligence exhibited by machines. ... "intelligent agents": any device that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of success at some goal.[1] ..". Wikipedia
  • Roughly speaking, it's technology that takes in huge amounts of information from a specific domain (say loan repayment histories) and uses it to make a decision in a specific case (whether to give an individual a loan) in the service of a specified goal (maximising profits for the lender). (New York Times, 2017).
  • AI is a computer system that can do tasks that humans need intelligence to do (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2017)
  • The first – and the most common – is to look at the sought-after outcome of AI research: roughly speaking, either the “creation and study of machines that behave in a way that denotes intelligence (note: whatever ‘behave’ may mean)” or “the creation and study of machines that think (note: whatever ‘think’ may mean)”. (FaberNovel, 2017)


I find these definitions are interesting as they suggest that artificial intelligence covers a wide range of activities - and activities that come to mind include online search engines, purchase recommendations on E-commerce sites, or credit card fraud prediction. In all of these cases, AI can make a big difference to outcomes.



And what about patent searching? Conventional patent searching relies on expert searchers deciding on filters, whether keyword, class code etc, and reviewing the results produced by these filters - often which are ranked in say order of publication date, or the like.

Is this artificial intelligence? I would suggest not  - instead it is relying on the intelligence of the searchers. The role of the patent database is to follow the instructions of these searchers.

However artificial intelligence is found in other forms of patent searching. Semantic searching is one such system - as is the Ambercite AI patent search engine, which explicitly applies artificial intelligence for the benefits of its uses - as discussed here



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