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Is IBM’s Watson Still Patent Eligible?


Written by Gene Quinn
President & Founder of IPWatchdog, Inc.
Patent Attorney, Reg. No. 44,294
Zies, Widerman & Malek
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Posted: May 13, 2013 @ 7:45 am
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By now most are likely already familiar with the unfortunate reality that the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a non-decision in CLS Bank v. Alice Corporation on Friday, May 10, 2013. There were 10 judges who heard the case en banc, with 7 of the 10 finding that the method claims and computer-readable medium claims were not patent eligible. While there may be reasonable room for a difference of opinion relative to those claims, it was the system claims that specifically and clearly recited tangible structure that has thrown the patent law of software into such disarray. 5 Judges would have found that the systems claims were patent ineligible (Judges Lourie, Dyk, Prost, Reyna and Wallach), and 5 Judges would have found the systems claims were patentable subject matter (Chief Judge Rader, Judges Newman, Moore, Linn and O’Malley). For more see Federal Circuit Nightmare in CLS Bank and 5 CAFC Judges Say Computer Patentable, Not Software and Did the CAFC Ignore the Supreme Court in CLS Bank?

Today, however, I want to write about one of the more bizarre passages I have ever seen in any decision, and then pose an almost unthinkable question: Is IBM’s Watson still patent eligible in the view of Judges Lourie, Dyk, Prost, Reyna and Wallach?

First, let’s start with the passage. Judge Lourie, who was joined by Judges Dyk, Prost, Reyna and Wallach, actually wrote: “At its most basic, a computer is just a calculator capable of performing mental steps faster than a human could. Unless the claims require a computer to perform operations that are not merely accelerated calculations, a computer does not itself confer patent eligibility.”

Thus, Judge Lourie and those who joined him in this opinion are of the belief that it is not enough that a method be performed faster or more efficient. That is utterly astonishing and will have significant and almost certainly unintended consequences. Innovations relating to faster and more efficient processing have always been patentable. In fact, many methods that do nothing more than speed up the end result have been patented for hundreds of years, and many inventors are in the Inventors Hall of Fame for such inventions.

Judges Lourie, Dyk, Prost, Reyna and Wallach in their infinite wisdom think that doing something faster and more efficient than a human does not in and of itself mean the process is patent eligible. Astonishing is the only word that comes to mind, but that doesn’t begin to touch the depth of my feelings. They are throwing away hundreds of years of patent jurisprudence and they probably never even considered that was what this simple statement was doing.

Obvious But Irrelevant

Before proceeding, allow me to point out just how ridiculous the statement made by Judge Lourie really is. Software performs all kinds of tasks faster than a human could. Furthermore, in many contexts the fact that the software directs the computer to act quickly enough to juggle a multitude of complex calculations means the difference between the task being accomplished and the task NEVER being accomplished.

There is no way that a human could perform real-time GPS navigation of a missile, for example. So the fact that a human could do the calculations if they had infinite time over infinite lifetimes is a nice, yet obvious, observation. But even infinite time over infinite lifetimes wouldn’t allow for real-time GPS navigation of a missile.

Even infinite time over infinite lifetimes wouldn’t allow for any group of people to perform the number of operations that IBM’s Watson can perform in a single second.

What about Watson?

IBM’s Watson computing system broke new ground in 2011 when it defeated two celebrated human competitors on Jeopardy! But what is Watson? It is an artificially intelligent computer system that is capable of answering questions presented in natural language. It is, in essence, the modern day equivalent to the all knowing Star Trek computer. It is flat out ridiculous to be asking whether the Star Trek omnipotent computer could be patent eligible, but that is where we find ourselves because what makes the computer unique is the software that makes it possible for Watson to perform 80 trillion operations per second.

80 trillion operations per second is very impressive indeed, but if the question is whether a human could perform those operations albeit slower, then Watson must be patent ineligible in the view of Judges Lourie, Dyk, Prost, Reyna and Wallach.

But isn’t this really where it starts to get absolutely ridiculous? Watson can be used to save lives and help improve the process for making a medical diagnosis, which in fact is one area where IBM is deploying the Watson technology. None other than Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is deploying Watson in cooperation with IBM to assist oncologists.

Let’s put this into some perspective. The IBM website explains:

According to one expert, only 20 percent of the knowledge physicians use to make diagnosis and treatment decisions today is evidence based. The result? One in five diagnoses are incorrect or incomplete and nearly 1.5 million medication errors are made in the US every year. Given the growing complexity of medical decision making, how can health care providers address these problems?

Let me answer this… Doctors could leverage a super computer that can process 80 trillion operations per second so that they can make better, more informed decisions. Watson is very much faster than a human and it should be patent eligible precisely because it is faster than a human and provides greater accuracy in real time. What good is the right diagnosis after the patient has already died? The issues are not trivial despite what several of the learned Judges of the Federal Circuit may believe, and ignoring the power of software and trivializing it because it merely calculates faster than a human is insulting.



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Some Illustrative Watson Claims

Before proceeding to look at claims let me be clear. Watson is patented and it SHOULD be patented and any Judge that would ever contemplate finding Watson patent ineligible should simultaneously resign or face impeachment for incompetence. I am going through this exercise step by step to demonstrate just how absurd the outcome of CLS Bank actually is.

Yet, the fact remains that Judges Lourie, Dyk, Prost, Reyna and Wallach have said that the fact that a process can be done faster than a human is of no relevance to the patent eligibility inquiry. Thus, we should probe that to see if it holds water when put to the test, just as the Supreme Court will do if the case is accepted by the Court.

Watson has many patents, but one patent that I am aware of is U.S. Patent No. 8,275,803. Claims 1 through 19 all cover a computer-implemented method. Claim 1, which is illustrative, recites:

A computer-implemented method of generating answers to questions based on a corpus of data, said method comprising:

receiving an input query;

performing a query context analysis upon said input query to break down said input query into query terms, said query terms comprising searchable components;

conducting a first search in said corpus of data using one of more of said searchable components to obtain documents potentially including candidate answers, wherein all documents potentially including candidate answers are stored in a data storage device;

analyzing all of said documents and each document’s metadata, in a candidate answer generation module, to generate a set of candidate answers;

conducting a second search in said corpus of data using said candidate answers and said searchable components of said query terms to obtain one or more supporting passages, wherein said supporting passages have at least one of said candidate answers and at least one of said searchable components of said query terms;

scoring said candidate answers using said supporting passages, wherein said scoring is carried out by a plurality of parallel implemented scoring modules, each scoring module producing a candidate score;

selecting one or more query answers based on said candidate score;

generating a query response based on said one or more query answers for delivery to a user,

wherein each said plurality of parallel implemented scoring modules for scoring all candidate answers using the said supporting passages automatically conducts, in parallel, one or more analyses each producing a candidate score, wherein one candidate score comprises a term match score obtained by implementing executable instructions for counting the number of terms in said supporting passage and determining if said number matches a number of terms in a candidate answer; and,

wherein a further score comprises a textual alignment score obtained by said processor implementing executable instructions for determining if placement of words in said supporting passages are in alignment with placement of words of said candidate answers; and,

wherein a further score comprises a deeper analysis score obtained by said processor implementing executable instructions for determining the meaning of the supporting passages and input queries by analyzing lexical or semantic relations.

(emphasis added to draw attention to structural, tangible components).

There is very little structure recited in this claim. If the Federal Circuit is correct about the method claims of CLS Bank v. Alice Corp., then I just don’t see how this claim is patent eligible today. Maybe the meager references to tangible components would be enough for Chief Judge Rader and Judge Moore, but if Judges Lourie, Dyk, Prost, Reyna and Wallach were to apply consistent logic and reasoning to these claims they would have to say it isn’t patent eligible because it just does things faster than a human could, which is not enough.

What about the system claims from the Watson ‘803 patent? Claim 20 recites:

A system for generating answers to questions based on a corpus of data comprising:

a memory storage device;

a processor in communication with said memory storage device and configured to perform a method comprising:

receiving an input query;

performing a query context analysis upon said input query to break down said input query into query terms, said query terms comprising searchable components;

conducting a first search in said corpus of data using one of more of said searchable components to obtain documents potentially including candidate answers, wherein all documents potentially including candidate answers are stored in a data storage device;

analyzing all of said documents and each document’s metadata, in a candidate answer generation module, to generate a set of candidate answers;

conducting a second search in said corpus of data using said candidate answers and said searchable components of said query terms to obtain one or more supporting passages, wherein said supporting passages have at least one of said candidate answers and at least one of said searchable components of said query terms;

scoring said candidate answers using said supporting passages, wherein said scoring is carried out by a plurality of parallel implemented scoring modules, each scoring module producing a candidate score;

selecting one or more query answers based on said candidate score;

generating a query response based on said one or more query answers for delivery to a user,

wherein each said plurality of parallel implemented scoring modules for scoring all candidate answers using the said supporting passages automatically conducts, in parallel, one or more analyses each producing a candidate score, wherein one candidate score comprises a term match score obtained by implementing executable instructions for counting the number of terms in said supporting passage and determining if said number matches a number of terms in a candidate answer; and,

wherein a further score comprises a textual alignment score obtained by said processor implementing executable instructions for determining if placement of words in said supporting passages are in alignment with placement of words of said candidate answers; and,

wherein a further score comprises a deeper analysis score obtained by said processor implementing executable instructions for determining the meaning of the supporting passages and input queries by analyzing lexical or semantic relations.

(emphasis added to draw attention to structural, tangible components).

If the system claims in CLS Bank v. Alice Corp. are not patent eligible then I don’t see how these claims can be patent eligible either.

Conclusion

Have we really reached the point where truly astonishing innovations, innovations once thought to be impossible, are not patent eligible? Talk about jumping the shark!

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Posted in: Companies We Follow, Computers, Federal Circuit, Gene Quinn, IBM, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patentability, Patents, Software

About the Author

is a Patent Attorney and the founder of the popular blog IPWatchdog.com, which has for three of the last four years (i.e., 2010, 2012 and 2103) been recognized as the top intellectual property blog by the American Bar Association. He is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course. As an electrical engineer with a computer engineering focus his specialty is electronic and computer devices, Internet applications, software and business methods.

 

36 comments
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  1. “Even infinite time over infinite lifetimes wouldn’t allow for any group of people to perform the number of operations that IBM’s Watson can perform in a single second.”

    Umm… actually, there were two people there that almost beat him:
    Ken Jennings, and Brad Rutter.

    Had there been a slightly different set of topics they likely would have.

  2. (should have done the entire section)
    “Before proceeding, allow me to point out just how ridiculous the statement made by Judge Lourie really is. Software performs all kinds of tasks faster than a human could. Furthermore, in many contexts the fact that the software directs the computer to act quickly enough to juggle a multitude of complex calculations means the difference between the task being accomplished and the task NEVER being accomplished.”

    So what. Just because it is faster doesn’t mean the software is or even should be patentable.

    “There is no way that a human could perform real-time GPS navigation of a missile, for example. So the fact that a human could do the calculations if they had infinite time over infinite lifetimes is a nice, yet obvious, observation. But even infinite time over infinite lifetimes wouldn’t allow for real-time GPS navigation of a missile.”

    Again, so what? Just being fast makes the COMPUTER more valuable. The exact same software would still work in a slow computer – just not a computer suitable for a missile targeting system. The GPS based navigation systems I wrote were suitable for use in aircraft – and were used to make aerial surveys of jungles.

  3. As far as your opening question “Is IBM’s Watson still patent eligible in the view of Judges Lourie, Dyk, Prost, Reyna and Wallach?”

    Of course the software isn’t, and shouldn’t be.

    The hardware is patented, after all, that is what made it fast.

  4. @Jesse >>Had there been a slightly different set of topics they likely would have.

    Watch the Ted talk where Ken Jennings says he had no chance. That he got his pants beat off him. You should watch it as I think that Ted talk explains a lot of Lourie and your attitude towards computers. Ken talks about how humbling it is to have computers be able to out do you at what you pride yourself on.

    I think that reaction explains a lot of the constant ridicule of software. Imagine(!!!!!!!!!!!!) a machine that is beating the pants off humans and people are saying that it is not worthy of a patent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Why that is outrageous! It speaks of some bizarre medieval reaction that you and others are having. The only reason I interact with you Jesse is I see you as a sick mind like the Catholic church treated Galileo. You see witches and ghosts. Your mind is that of a person from the 1920’s. Really shameful of you not to modernize your mind.

  5. “Have we really reached the point where truly astonishing innovations, innovations once thought to be impossible, are not patent eligible? Talk about jumping the shark!”

    The only really astonishing innovation here is the collection of hardware. The software was a multi-threaded, multi-node search engine, with a LOT of statistical analysis, and a LOT of expert system rule analysis. I’m quite sure that Google could develop a variation to handle simple voice queries from users.

    Watson was really just a demonstration of the capability of IBM. That the result of the software development is or can be very important in other fields is a side benefit. One thing it still needs is a more flexible input/output for query handling. Last I read on it, it still needed someone to type the questions in, and the answers the other players gave. If you look at the videos, it was only successful after it was also given the answers other players made, which allowed it to adjust its answers when the other players were wrong.

    Now that it has demonstrated its capability with Jeopardy, I am sure IBM will develop a market for similar services – such as answering queries from the medical profession. It may even be useful for queries over legal issues…

    The same software could be recompiled to run on a desktop… it would just run VERY slowly due to the slow hardware, and limited memory capacity. Want it to run fast? Throw 70 Power7 mainframe rack units at the problem…

  6. @Gene “At its most basic, a computer is just a calculator capable of performing mental steps faster than a human could. Unless the claims require a computer to perform operations that are not merely accelerated calculations, a computer does not itself confer patent eligibility.”

    There are problems with this: (1) this should be in 102/103 and not 101, and (2) they are not realizing that as other have pointed out the nature of the calculations have changed. The computer does processing that no human could or would want to do. This is the same as for machines and physical methods, by the way. The physical methods claims for machines could be performed by people. Just as in Deener, but no one would want to perform them. Just like in computers.

    I think everyone should ask themselves whether this is motivated by a medieval reaction to computers. They seem scared and want to kill off the computer. I know some will not agree with that, but think about it and listen to some of them speak in person. I remember a joke one of those 5 said something to the effect: yeah, and next they will be patenting a program to write federal circuit opinions, which garnered a very strange a loud laugh from the other panel members.

    @Jesse: try a thought experiment. You know nothing about computers. An inventor brings in a machine that can detect cancer in breasts. You are amazed! We all are. Then a judge says no that machine cannot be patented because of the way it was made. If you have any decency, and fair play, you will see that it is absurd to look inside the machine and say you cannot patent it because I think you have some natural law going on inside there.

  7. @Gene:

    To me I don’t think this decision is that bad. It is going to be very hard to unambiguously describe the abstract concept that a claim embodies. And, we should all make sure that our claims aren’t capable of being described in a simple abstract concept—which of course is just another ridiculous requirement now of patentability.

  8. @Jesse >>The only really astonishing innovation here is the collection of hardware.

    OK, Jesse, now I am going to add ignorance of artificial intelligence.

  9. @Jesse >>The hardware is patented, after all, that is what made it fast.

    OK, I am adding ignorance of algorithm analysis. What invention made it possible to simulate the universe?

    Answer: Kd-trees took the time from n squared to n log n. Now, if you know anything, you will know that with an n squared method, you cannot simulate much of anything, but with an n log n method you can.

    Please Jesse stop.

  10. Gene: I don’t see anything that teach “speeding up” this processes that the computer element (and storage) is being used to replace the human brain and using short/long term memory. We can assume the process is fast because of the real world machine, but these claims show no processor instruction teaching processing speed/efficiency. Every step as in the Alice case can be manually done by a human, though at a slower pace, but can be done by a human. I understand where the judges made this decision and In my opinion is correct (having won a patent that can’t be done by human memory).

  11. @Jesse:

    And please Jesse, you statements about software are just outrageous. I’ve taken AI classes from some of the best world famous researchers. Figuring out how to get this stuff done was HARD (!)—very hard. Read an AI book from the 1960’s and then one from 2013 and you will see the enormous progress made.

    And, to claim the hardware is what makes it fast is ignorant of computer science. You remind me of students I taught as an adjust computer science professor. You knew a little bit about software, but none of the theory and nothing about hardware. You have probably used methods that existed and all you did was implement them so you didn’t have to worry about time and space.

  12. The quote is:

    “Unless the claims require a computer to perform operations that are not merely accelerated calculations, a computer does not itself confer patent eligibility.”

    but I have trouble when asked to construe it as a “Sky is Falling” moment. I see it as merely refuting the position of the EPO on eligibility, which holds sway elsewhere in the world (with the exception of England). I see these judges as sympathetic to the English view.

    Taken in context, I see it as merely the trite observation that what a computer does is to process data faster than a human brain. Any claim that rests its eligibility on nothing more than that it recites a computer, doing what any computer does, inherently and inevitably, is seen as not enough to confer eligibility.

    Viewed from the UK this observation is banal. Viewed from the EPO, this view of eligibility is not helpful. I see everything through my “Euro” spectacles. I suspect that the en banc Panel has it in mind to expose the issue, whether for 101 eligibility to take account of what is already old, in a form for kicking upstairs for SCOTUS to address.

    For the benefit of readers less well-informed than Mr Quinn, I should add that the EPC has “programs for computers” down as ineligible but nevertheless recognises as eligible any software that changes the way the computer does its job. I don’t doubt that all ten members of the CAFC panel would find such subject matter also eligible under the US statute.

  13. @MD:

    The difference between the EPC and the U.S. is that the EPC excludes computer programs by statute. The Congress of the U.S. has not done so. So, the judicial activism that is taking place now is really like legislation and your comment highlights that.

  14. MD,

    Isn’t processing data faster than a human the essence of ‘technical advance?’ Does not the UK ascribe to TRIPPS? How is this (the UK view) then, not a violation of that treaty?

  15. NWPA,

    The exclusion is not a direct nor total exclusion. It is merely a ‘per se’ exclusion, and must be understood in that very different context.

  16. One of my favorite sayings is “bad facts make bad law”, and the way our judicial system is set up, this couldn’t be more true here. There is currently a real bias against business method patents (you have the likes of Mark Cuban and other outspoken critics who really don’t understand patent law), and some of the justices on the Fed Circuit (especially the newer ones with little patent experience) have swallowed the Kool-aid and think all software should not be patentable. Tell it to companies like Fujitsu who probably has over 10,000 patents on software devices that they are now all invalid.

    If patent number 8,275,803 that Gene mentions above was the one in question before the Fed Circuit, I think the result might have been somewhat different (I think more judges would have thought it was patent eligible) because it doesn’t have the “business method stigma.” I hope the next 101 case that is heard by the Fed Circuit is a case that is not a business method and maybe we can put all this nonsense to bed.

    In any case, the one saving grace in CLS is that there was no majority about anything (other than the final result). So the case is irrelevant as far as precedent goes. i don’t think the PTO can and will be citing this one. The bigger problem, though, is we see the true colors (and ignorance) of some of the newer members of the Fed Circuit.

    Does anyone know anything about Taranto and what his disposition might be on this issue?

  17. I agree the quote (and underpinning of the article) is significant, but everything that follows in the article seems to be hypothetical hyperbole.

    The first half of the passage from Judge Lourie is appropriate and supported by patent law, at least as has been used for obviousness rejections. It is known that computers allow accelerated calculations and if you develop a process for which accelerated calculations are desired, it would be obvious to put those calculations on a computer. Then you need to compare the process/calculations to the prior art processes to determine if the invention is obvious.

    What really seems to be going on is that the machine or transformation test seems inadequate when the machine is pedestrian. I enjoyed the thoughts of Chief Judge Rader. I think USC 101 was intended to be a low bar and I do not believe novelty of the elements of the invention should be part of the eligibility discussion.

  18. Todd-

    I would love for you to explain why you think the article is full of hyperbole, rather than simply conclude that without support.

    The article, obviously, is not full of hyperbole. I provided the claims for everyone to see. If you look at the claims of Alice Corporation any fair minded observer has to realize that these claims to Watson are indistinguishable. That is fact, not hyperbole.

    -Gene

  19. Pro Se-

    You say: “Every step as in the Alice case can be manually done by a human, though at a slower pace…”

    That is simply false. The system claims in Alice Corporation clearly recited structure.

    As my article for tomorrow will show, the other claims were admitted by the defendant to recite structure during claim construction and again during oral argument at the Federal Circuit. So it is completely false to say that the Alice claims could be done by a human manually. The claims either clearly include machines or were admitted by CLS Bank to require machines. See page 5 of the opinion of Judges Linn and O’Malley.

    -Gene

  20. Since there seems to be a lack of understanding about the claims involved in the case and erroneous belief that the Alice claims somehow could actually be done by a person manually I decided to publish the article I had for tomorrow morning today. See:

    http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2013/05/13/did-the-federal-circuit-ignore-the-supreme-court-in-cls-bank/id=40267/

    Clearly, the Alice Corporation claims were tied to a machine and could simply not be performed by a human without a machine.

    -Gene

  21. @Gene:

    I read the system claim again and you’re right.

  22. Pro Se-

    I completely understand not wanting to give patents away on purely mental processes, such as in Bilski. That should have been what the Federal Circuit and Supreme Court ruled in Bilski. I can also understand concern over the method claims of Alice Corporation because they are literally devoid of tangible components, but they did admit that a proper construction limited the claims to operation on a machine and were not purely mental.

    I don’t understand the systems claims ruling at all, and it does seem to me that Chief Judge Rader is exactly correct when he says that hundreds of thousands of patents would be lost if that view prevails at the end of the day. I think the claims in this particular Watson patent drive the point home with force. These don’t look different from the Alice claims in any principled way.

    So are we at the point where the Star Trek omnipotent computer is no longer something that can be patented?

    What makes Watson special isn’t just the hardware. Being able to understand natural language questions and sort for an answer is not done by the hardware, the magic of Watson is software.

    -Gene

  23. @Gene:

    I concur the system claims language of (module) which I somehow missed not thoroughly reading the first time does in fact merit a computer being necessary to carry out.

    I used and charted the modules for my system claims and included them as the prefix to each claim step, perhaps that’s where my ignorance in reading resulted but indeed the module language is clearly in the system claims.

    I agree while the method and app claims may not meet the requirement, the system claim clearly is compliant in my new opinion. Thanks for the clarity.

  24. I wonder how the USPTO will implement this instruction. Are we going to begin receiving 101 rejections to our system claims now? Will examiners begin ignoring physical and structural elements in our claims? This is troubling indeed.

    Thanks for the article, Gene.

  25. “I wonder how the USPTO will implement this instruction.”

    Fortunately, I don’t think the USPTO can do anything with this crap of a decision since there is no majority opinion.

  26. @Ben: I received a call from my patent examiner of a continuation based on a computerized system and he said nothing that alerted me that the PTO is doing things differently as a result of this case.

  27. I just can’t imagine SCOTUS agreeing with Lourie. Too many small software startups and independents (and even mid-size companies) and the jobs they employ are at stake. Many are heavily dependent on patents to get investor funding.

    What’s the upside to killing the patent system? The jobs at Google? …less than 25% of the 50,000 jobs at Google actually write any software – and Google seem to be doing just fine the past 15years. In fact, Google used their 1997 Stanford patent to block competitors (read: Microsoft) – goose meet gander. Besides, Google was already handed their win with AIA, they don’t need anymore.

    My bet is that If anything, SCOTUS will finally add some certainty to software patents and software innovation thru startups can continue to prosper.

  28. @NWPA

    “@Jesse >>The only really astonishing innovation here is the collection of hardware.

    OK, Jesse, now I am going to add ignorance of artificial intelligence.”

    I’m fairly familiar with artificial intelligence, from the original rules based expert systems to the neural net solutions.

    They are not that astonishing once you get into them. The most complex one is the neural nets – creating the proper training is still a bit of an abstract art. But the basics are not that complicated.

    I became familiar with expert systems while working with several – the old “tale spinner”, the configuration expert system DEC used to use, OPS 5 that was the original pattern, and used for prototyping some medical expert systems.

    All of them are well founded mathematics.

  29. @NWPA
    “And please Jesse, you statements about software are just outrageous. I’ve taken AI classes from some of the best world famous researchers. Figuring out how to get this stuff done was HARD (!)—very hard. Read an AI book from the 1960?s and then one from 2013 and you will see the enormous progress made.”

    Yes it is, but just being hard doesn’t make it a patentable subject. If it were patented, then it couldn’t have been in the book, as the student would not have a license.

    “And, to claim the hardware is what makes it fast is ignorant of computer science. You remind me of students I taught as an adjust computer science professor. You knew a little bit about software, but none of the theory and nothing about hardware. You have probably used methods that existed and all you did was implement them so you didn’t have to worry about time and space.”

    You are just referring to optimization of mathematical algorithms.
    You can optimize for storage/time or both. But the result is still a mathematical expression. The expressions used in Watson are as good as it gets. And the students I taught learned the difference between abstract mathematics, and physical hardware.

    But without the hardware being fast, the result would still have worked, but failed at the demo.

  30. @NWPA
    “@Jesse >>Had there been a slightly different set of topics they likely would have.

    Watch the Ted talk where Ken Jennings says he had no chance. That he got his pants beat off him. You should watch it as I think that Ted talk explains a lot of Lourie and your attitude towards computers. Ken talks about how humbling it is to have computers be able to out do you at what you pride yourself on.”

    I did. Did you watch the lead from the project? It was losing roughly every 4th question, and giving the same wrong answer as the other players. It didn’t have a good chance until they modified it to accept information about wrong answers.

    The most interesting thing was reference to implementing learning algorithms. They didn’t go into the algorithms (likely a trade secret), but that was the internal key to their success.

    “I think that reaction explains a lot of the constant ridicule of software. Imagine(!!!!!!!!!!!!) a machine that is beating the pants off humans and people are saying that it is not worthy of a patent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Why that is outrageous! It speaks of some bizarre medieval reaction that you and others are having. The only reason I interact with you Jesse is I see you as a sick mind like the Catholic church treated Galileo. You see witches and ghosts. Your mind is that of a person from the 1920?s. Really shameful of you not to modernize your mind.”

    I have no problem with software, having written a couple of hundred thousand lines of it (hard to tell for sure, but three of my jobs did nothing else); just the improper labeling of it as “not abstract”, “not mathematics”, and “not a language”, especially when all three are non-patentable subjects.

    I’m pretty sure that eventually software will replace many jobs in many fields, from politics to law. It is getting that good at handling abstract concepts. I just hope it doesn’t get programmed for greed.

  31. @NWPA
    “@Jesse >>The hardware is patented, after all, that is what made it fast.

    OK, I am adding ignorance of algorithm analysis. What invention made it possible to simulate the universe?

    Answer: Kd-trees took the time from n squared to n log n. Now, if you know anything, you will know that with an n squared method, you cannot simulate much of anything, but with an n log n method you can.”

    Kd-trees are a mathematical concept. It provides a better mathematical algorithm useful for reducing the amount of calculation for simulation.

    But speed is not a property that makes something non-patentable patentable.

    “Please Jesse stop.”

    I’ll stop just as soon as patents are no longer issued for non-patentable subjects.

  32. Jesse said:

    > I have no problem with software, having written a couple of hundred thousand lines of it

    no offense, but why do I find that hard to believe? From the inability to grasp simple concepts like ‘interchangeability’ and ‘abstractness’ – to the long-winded answers that end up contradicting yourself. Scientists and engineers generally speak openly and directly – not in vague, roundabout, going off in a tangent, say-nothing language that results in no points being made. I envision any code you would write would never compile, be riddled with bugs, wouldn’t accomplish anything – but I’m sure you’re right about the LONG part.

  33. @Jodi: great to have you here writing these posts.

  34. @Jodi: thanks for the C to assembly example. It completely destroyed Jesse’s nonsense.

  35. >>Kd-trees are a mathematical concept. I

    Kd-trees are data structure that a computer performs a method to build and performs a method to search (to simulate the universe and do ray tracing.)

    Jesse: the computer is performing a method. Your brain is performing all these abstract thoughts to generate software, but the output of your brain is not abstract. It is a method for a MACHINE to perform a sequence of steps.

  36. jesse,

    You continue to post with what I can only presume to be unintended contradictions and unsupportable positions.

    I’m pretty sure that eventually software will replace many jobs in many fields, from politics to law. It is getting that good at handling abstract concepts.

    Handling an abstract concept is not the abstract concept. The map is not the world. Something that is abstract cannot replace anything in the real world. Only something that is real can do that.

    I just hope it doesn’t get programmed for greed

    You are far too late for that. Or far too early. Mankind has always done things out of greed. Read some Adam Smith. Mankind has not evolved enough to support naked idealism. Ignore this reality at your peril.

    Greed is infused in humanity – is inseparable from humanity. This post reminds me why communism fails in reality. I am perpetually stunned at the number of smart people who fail to understand the logic that idealism, while a worthwhile goal, can never take the place of pragmatism.