News and Analysis of Artificial Intelligence Technology Legal Issues
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Recent Court Decisions Boost the Outlook for Artificial Intelligence Patents

Machine learning enthusiasts have long touted the technology’s ability to perform–and sometimes exceed–human mental endeavors, such as identifying objects in images, generating a portrait painting, deciding to grant a loan application, optimizing a route to a destination, and efficiently responding to website visitor or customer queries. In recent years, such computerized “mental processes” have been denied patent protection, a trend underscored by U.S. federal district and Federal Circuit patent decisions issued in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s seminal Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l opinion in 2014, which provided today’s legal framework for determining whether an invention is…

Distributed Artificial Intelligence Systems, Edge Computing, and the Extraterritoriality Doctrine: Testing the Reach of State Privacy Laws

In Patel v. Facebook, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit affirmed a decision by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granting class certification to users of Facebook who alleged that Facebook’s collecting and storing of their face scans using facial recognition technology violated Illinois’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”). In doing so, the panel, based in San Francisco, relied on BIPA’s legislative history to conclude that, “it is reasonable to infer that the [Illinois] General Assembly contemplated BIPA’s application to individuals who are located in Illinois, even if some…

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Does Illinois’ Artificial Intelligence Video Interview Bill Fully Address Biometric Data Privacy Concerns?

Developers of artificial intelligence-based video interviewing systems promote their technology as one that helps human resource professionals on-board new talent faster, less expensively, and with greater insight compared to traditional human-only interviewing techniques. They also contend that their systems can avoid some of the potential implicit biases that may appear before, during, and after interviews, thus reducing risks to companies while leveling the playing field for qualified job applicants. But because those AI system have the potential to collect, store, and use data reflecting a job candidate’s face and voice, lawmakers in Illinois passed the Artificial Intelligence Video Interview Act…

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California Court Agrees With Autonomous Driving Company’s Source Code Misappropriation Claims, Issues Preliminary Injunction

In WeRide Corp. v. Huang et al., the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued an order granting a motion for a preliminary injunction and expedited source code discovery.  In doing so, the court concluded that plaintiff’s source code for Level 4 highly autonomous vehicles (HAVs) was a protected trade secret under the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) and California’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act (Cal-UTSA).  The court also concluded that plaintiff was likely to succeed on the merits of its trade secret misappropriation claim against one of its former employees and a China-based company that the…

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Civil Litigation Discovery Approaches in the Era of Advanced Artificial Intelligence Technologies

For nearly as long as computers have existed, litigators have used software-generated machine output to buttress their cases, and courts have had to manage a host of machine-related evidentiary issues, including deciding whether a machine’s output, or testimony based on the output, could fairly be admitted as evidence and to what extent. Today, as litigants begin contesting cases involving aspects of so-called intelligent machines–hardware/software systems endowed with machine learning algorithms and other artificial intelligence-based models–their lawyers and the judges overseeing their cases may need to rely on highly-nuanced discovery strategies aimed at gaining insight into the nature of those algorithms,…

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Government Plans to Issue Technical Standards For Artificial Intelligence Technologies

On February 11, 2019, the White House published a plan for developing and protecting artificial intelligence technologies in the United States, citing economic and national security concerns among other reasons for the action.  Coming two years after Beijing’s 2017 announcement that China intends to be the global leader in AI by 2030, President Trump’s Executive Order on Maintaining American Leadership in Artificial Intelligence lays out five principles for AI, including “development of appropriate technical standards and reduc[ing] barriers to the safe testing and deployment of AI technologies in order to enable the creation of new AI-related industries and the adoption of…

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Washington State Seeks to Root Out Bias in Artificial Intelligence Systems

The harmful effects of biased algorithms have been widely reported.  Indeed, some of the world’s leading tech companies have been accused of producing applications, powered by artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, that were later discovered to exhibit certain racial, cultural, gender, and other biases.  Some of the anecdotes are quite alarming, to say the least.  And while not all AI applications have these problems, it only takes a few concrete examples before lawmakers begin to take notice. In New York City, lawmakers began addressing algorithmic bias in 2017 with the introduction of legislation aimed at eliminating bias from algorithmic-based automated decision…

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The Role of Explainable Artificial Intelligence in Patent Law

Although the notion of “explainable artificial intelligence” (AI) has been suggested as a necessary component of governing AI technology, at least for the reason that transparency leads to trust and better management of AI systems in the wild, one area of US law already places a burden on AI developers and producers to explain how their AI technology works: patent law.  Patent law’s focus on how AI systems work was not borne from a Congressional mandate. Rather, the Supreme Court gets all the credit–or blame, as some might contend–for this legal development, which began with the Court’s 2014 decision in Alice…

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California Appeals Court Denies Defendant Access to Algorithm That Contributed Evidence to His Conviction

One of the concerns expressed by those studying algorithmic decision-making is the apparent lack of transparency. Those impacted by adverse algorithmic decisions often seek transparency to better understand the basis for the decisions. In the case of software used in legal proceedings, parties who seek explanations about software face a number of obstacles, including those imposed by evidentiary rules, criminal or civil procedural rules, and by software companies that resist discovery requests. The closely-followed issue of algorithmic transparency was recently considered by a California appellate court in People v. Superior Court of San Diego County, slip op. Case D073943 (Cal.…

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AI’s Problems Attract More Congressional Attention

As contentious political issues continue to distract Congress before the November midterm elections, federal legislative proposals aimed at governing artificial intelligence (AI) have largely stalled in the Senate and House.  Since December 2017, nine AI-focused bills, such as the AI Reporting Act of 2018 (AIR Act) and the AI in Government Act of 2018, have been waiting for congressional committee attention.  Even so, there has been a noticeable uptick in the number of individual federal lawmakers looking at AI’s problems, a sign that the pendulum may be swinging in the direction favoring regulation of AI technologies. Those lawmakers taking a serious look…