New research from the U.N. World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has revealed that China and the US are well ahead of the global competition in the race for AI dominance.
According to the study, which analysed international patent filings, scientific publications and acquisitions, IBM has the largest AI patent portfolio with 8,920 patents putting the US tech giant ahead of Microsoft with 5,930 patents and a group of mostly Japanese tech conglomerates.
China meanwhile accounted for 17 of the top 20 academic institutions working on patenting AI with a strong focus on deep learning.
WIPO's Director General Francis Gurry explained how both countries have made significant progress in terms of AI development at a news conference, saying
“The U.S. and China obviously have stolen a lead. They’re out in front in this area, in terms of numbers of applications, and in scientific publications.”
Despite continued accusations that China has engaged in corporate espionage to seal intellectual property and other trade secrets, Gurry stressed that the country had embraced the global intellectual property system and highlighted how China has both the world's largest patent office and the highest number of domestic patent applications.
After analysing international patent filings, scientific publications and other business activity related to AI, WIPO's study discovered that there have been as many patent applications for AI projects since 2013 as there were in the half century since the term was first used in the 1950s.
Between 2013 and 2016, patent applications in machine learning grew on average by 28 percent. However, more recent data is currently unavailable due to an 18-month window before confidential patent applications are disclosed publicly.
Additionally, the study found that deep learning overtook robotics in terms of patent applications filed with 118 in 2013 to 2,399 in 2016.
Computer vision, used to guide self-driving cars, was the single most popular AI application.