The Technical Difference between AI and Machine Learning

2 minutes

Table of Contents

Andrew Rapacke
Andrew Rapacke is a registered patent attorney and serves as Managing Partner at The Rapacke Law Group, a full service intellectual property law firm.

The terms AI and machine learning are often used interchangeably in normal speech. But is there a technical difference between AI and machine learning? Does the technical difference between AI and machine learning potentially translate into a legal distinction between the two? Perhaps. There is a technical distinction between AI and machine learning.

  • Artificial Intelligence. AI is the broad idea of a machine having artificial intelligence and encompasses the idea that a machine can learn. A computer that can make its own decision based on information that it gathers and evaluates can be AI. Similarly, a computer that is capable of learning would be an example of AI.
  • Machine Learning. Machine learning, on the other hand, involves the techniques used by the AI in order for the AI to learn something. To say this differently, the process by which a computer learns would be considered a machine learning technique.

Can AI be an Author? Can AI be an inventor?

If AI can learn and make its own decisions, then it logically follows that AI can be capable of creating intellectual property. But would intelligent creations produced by AI be protectable intellectual property? This is a question that is not clearly answered yet, but we can speculate on whether IP produced by AI can be owned by someone, or the AI itself, based on what the law says and relevant legal precedent.

Typically, IP is granted to individuals, and to date those individuals have been human. Under both U.S. patent law, and U.S. copyright law, inventors and authors have always been human. So, if AI creates an invention, or creates content that has traditionally been eligible for copyright protection, it is not likely that the intellectual byproduct of AI will be protectable since the AI is not a human inventor or author.

However, that is not to say that the AI technology itself is not patent eligible, or that the underlying software code for the AI is not copyright eligible. Some human had to originally develop the AI technology, and some human must have originally created the AI software. Those aspects of an AI technology can be protectable IP assets since a human is responsible for the initial invention or authorship of the AI code.

Seeking IP Protection for AI Inventions and Software Code

The creation of AI technology and machine learning processes are likely eligible for IP protections so long as the inventor or author is a human being. Once AI technology begins creating its own content, ownership of AI-generated IP is unclear. While it is too soon to predict whether U.S. IP law will shift concerning AI-generated IP in the future, you can seek legal protection for the underlying innovative aspects of AI inventions that a human is responsible for creating.

The IP attorneys at The Rapacke Law Group find AI and machine learning technology fascinating and we look forward to the technological advances in AI that are on the horizon. If you have an AI-based technology, we can consult with you and provide guidance on an IP strategy that makes sense for you and your company. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our IP attorneys.

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