When Robert Plotkin, our IP lawyer, came to my office and tried to explain this to me a few years ago, I got the gist but still found it hard to explain the concept to someone else. Now the book he came to get my advice about is a reality, and this review of The Genie in the Machine in Library Journal provides greater clarity than I could manage:

Plotkin, Robert. The Genie in the Machine: How Computer-Automated Inventing Is Revolutionizing Law & Business. Stanford Law & Politics: Stanford Univ. 2009. c.288p. index. ISBN 978-0-8047-5699-0. $29.95. BUS

There is little argument that invention spurs innovation, competition, and economic growth. With technology today, however, inventors can simply input a problem (a “wish”) into a program and have the computer (a “genie”) generate, or “invent,” the ultimate solution. Who or what, then, is the true inventor of the final product? Plotkin, an intellectual property attorney, tackles this intriguing question by stating that patent law today does not lend itself to such broad interpretation. Further, the author convincingly illustrates an urgent need to reform current law so that it is neither too strong nor too weak in order to protect the future rights of inventors, businesses, and consumers. VERDICT Plotkin posits that “Computer Automated Inventing” or “Artificial Invention Technology” does not replace the human mind; rather, it augments and partners with its human counterpart to build a better mousetrap, whatever that might be. From toothbrushes to auto assembly, the author uses easy-to-understand analogies that most lay readers will understand. Recommended for committed readers in business, computer science, or law.—Judy Brink-Drescher, Dowling Coll., Oakdale, NY

“Invention” is obviously another topic for a publication I’ll soon get underway, to update and expand from the Berkshire Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction. Think of all the developments: micro-blogging, mash-ups, and even computerized customer service!




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