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Artificial intelligence controls diabetes and replenishes your refrigerator – the COVID-19 crisis is accelerating the development of AI solutions in the US



In the United States, artificial intelligence has been harnessed to solve the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis beyond health care as well. The pandemic has accelerated, for example, the strengthening of privacy protection. This enthusiasm for innovation will lead to a dramatic rise in protection filings, says Patrick Keane, an expert from our international partner network in Virginia, USA.

The pandemic period has caused every US enterprise to examine their balance sheets and put their spending under the microscope. At the same time, however, companies are looking for opportunities to develop their business with new technologies and innovations inspired by the coronavirus. 

“Current developments in the US IP field focus on innovations to identify and solve problems caused by the COVID-19 crisis: cloud services, privacy protection, new pharmaceuticals and, for example, new ventilator designs are constantly evolving”, says Patrick Keane, Executive Shareholder at the IP law firm Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney.

IP_Trends2020_Patrick C. Keane

Advances relate to minimising the impact of COVID-19. For example, ventilators are being developed through cooperation, and there are efforts to trace the symptoms of the virus through predictive AI analysis. The aim is to also identify possible COVID hotspots and, if necessary, restrict the movement of people according to the migration of the disease. The focus on the development of AI technologies is also leading to new partnerships and collaborative agreements between companies, such as the development of open source AI platforms. 

“We have been forced to learn and adopt new technologies, platforms and forms of collaboration based on cloud services and 5G technology. This development is not limited to virtual meetings, but also extends to health care. New, innovative AI-based health care environments allow virtual visits to the doctor’s office, and diagnoses or screenings can be done remotely”, Keane says.

Smart internal organs and spaceships

Artificial intelligence is the single largest emerging area of technology in the US even outside the development of the coronavirus vaccine and treatments. 

“Rising AI technologies include, among other things, inventions related to speech recognition. As devices recognise and process speech more accurately, their operation requires less physical contact and is thus more sanitary”, Keane says. 

Evolving edge computing, in turn, provides smarter cloud-based devices from phones to medical devices, smart home appliances and vehicles. 

“A smart artificial pancreas can be used for diabetes control, and a smart refrigerator can place replenishment orders autonomously as food supplies are used up. As for the inaugural SpaceX Crew Dragon launched in May, it represents a different kind of development extreme”, Keane cites examples. 

The more we rely on artificial intelligence and communicate remotely, the more attention needs to be paid to information security. 

“Data breaches through smart in-home devices and intrusion to cloud-based online meetings supported by third party providers, such as Zoom, are causing concerns. It is likely that solutions to protect against various attacks and data breaches will become even more common in an environment where we are increasingly working from home”, Keane says.

Artificial intelligence is a necessary means of survival 

“Many countries have already recognised that the development of AI solutions is almost essential for those industries and enterprises that wish to survive into the next decade”, Keane says. 

AI holds the undisputed top spot in the innovation sector and, for example, China has announced its intent to be the global centre for AI by 2030. 

“The US, too, is preparing initiatives and regulations directly aimed at private sector innovations and growth in the field of artificial intelligence while promoting the responsible use of AI.” 

The US Presidential Executive Order of February 2019 and the Strategic Plan of the US National Science Technology Council (NSTC) are helping to pave the way and increase public trust in AI solutions. 

“The positive results are reflected in an exponential rise in AI-related patent filings at the US Patent and Trademark Office (UPSTO) over the past five years”, Keane says. 

The IP field in the US is showing no signs of slowing down, and the need for protection is likely to only accelerate further.

“The COVID-19 crisis caused a sharp increase in the number of innovations, so as a result of the crisis, we are likely to see a dramatic rise in the protection of innovations as well.”

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