About This Blog
Automating Invention is Robert Plotkin's blog on the impact of computer-automated inventing on the future of invention and patent law.
- Artificial Invention
- Design & Engineering
- Evolutionary Computation
- Genie in the Machine
- History of Computing
- Human Creativity
- Intellectual Property Law
- Philosophy of Computing
- Software Patents
- Technology Industry
- Talk on Genie in the Machine at Concord Public Library
- Reviews of the Indian Edition of The Genie in the Machine
- Implications of the Bilski Case for Software Patents
- The Future of Invention at WorldFuture 2009
- Guest Blogging on IP Watchdog
- Genie in the Machine Published in India
- Upcoming Keynote Speech on Invention Automation at GECCO 2009 in Montreal
- Interview About Invention Automation on Nolo Press Blog
- BusinessWeek Touts Cust-Cutting Ability of Automated Inventing
- Guest Blogging on the Boston ERISA & Insurance Litigation Blog
- The Futurist Magazine Features Invention Automation as Cover Story
- Videos of Talk on Invention Automation Available
- October 2009
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- July 2009
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- May 2009
- April 2009
- March 2009
- February 2009
- January 2009
- December 2008
- November 2008
- October 2008
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- August 2008
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- June 2006
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- December 2005
- November 2005
- October 2005
- September 2005
- August 2005
- July 2005
- June 2005
October 4, 2009
Talk on Genie in the Machine at Concord Public Library
I will be giving a talk on The Genie in the Machine next Thursday, October 15 at the Free Public Library in my home town of Concord, Massachusetts, starting at 7:30pm. The event is open to the public and will include a reading from the book and a question and answer period.
Reviews of the Indian Edition of The Genie in the Machine
July 8, 2009
Implications of the Bilski Case for Software Patents
Although the facts of the Bilski case that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear this fall only involve a business method patent, the case could have significant implications for software patents and patents on computer-generated inventions, as I explain in this interview on the "Create the Dream" web site.
July 3, 2009
The Future of Invention at WorldFuture 2009
I will be giving a talk on "The Future of Inventing" at the WorldFuture 2009 conference on July 19, 2009 from 11am-12pm (see pp. 50-51 of the program for more details). In the talk I will focus on how computers are enabling inventors to invent more efficiently and effectively, and how in the future even people without technical skill may be able to use computers to become inventors.
I will also be available for a meet-the-author session in connection with my book, The Genie in the Machine, on July 19 from 3:30-4:00pm. Copies of The Genie in the Machine will be available for sale at the Futurist Bookstore throughout the conference.
For a preview of the kinds of topics I will be discussing in my talk, see my article in the July-August issue of The Futurist magazine.
July 1, 2009
Guest Blogging on IP Watchdog
IPWatchdog.com published a guest blog entry from me yesterday in which I argue that the "wishes" I talk about in The Genie in the Machine should be patentable. This kind of discussion is particularly important to have right now, in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to hear the Bilski case. A flawed decision in that case could set back patent protection for software and for computer-generated inventions for years, if not decades.
June 30, 2009
Genie in the Machine Published in India
The Genie in the Machine continues its worldwide tour with its publication in India this month by Penguin Books India. Thanks to everyone at Penguin for bringing the book to press.
If you are interested in obtaining a copy of the book for review in a publication or blog in India, or would like to order a batch of customized editions for your company or organization in India, please let me know. Otherwise, individual copies of the book are available online directly from the publisher.
June 25, 2009
Upcoming Keynote Speech on Invention Automation at GECCO 2009 in Montreal
I am going to be giving a keynote speech on invention automation and The Genie in the Machine at this year's Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO) in Montreal on July 10 at 2:10pm. In the talk I will discuss how the work of people in the fields of genetic and evolutionary computation raises thorny problems for patent law, and provide an outline of the solutions that I propose in The Genie in the Machine.
It is an honor to be given the opportunity to give this talk, in light of the fact that I first met many of the people who I interviewed for The Genie in the Machine at a GECCO conference a few years ago. Without exception they were generous with their time, and their contributions made it possible to demonstrate in the book that invention automation is a real and growing phenomenon. I am looking forward not only to sharing my thoughts with them on the need to reform patent law in light of their work, but also to learn from them about the latest developments in the use of genetic and evolutionary computation as tools for automated inventing.
June 17, 2009
Interview About Invention Automation on Nolo Press Blog
Rich Stim of the Nolo Press Patent, Copyright & Trademark Blog interviewed me about The Genie in the Machine and has posted the audio of the interview on the blog. Rich asked some great questions about how invention automation technology works and its implications for the future of patent law.
June 14, 2009
BusinessWeek Touts Cust-Cutting Ability of Automated Inventing
A new article in BusinessWeek points out that as "recession-racked companies search for ways to cut costs, some are rediscovering automated innovation." Although some early attempts at automated inventing years ago did not live up to original expectations, increases in computing power and improvements in invention automation techniques themselves are now enabling businesses to use the latest technology to create new products and improve business processes more efficiently than ever before.
The article confirms one of the theses of The Genie in the Machine, namely that the most recent advances in artificial invention technology are no longer merely academic curiosities. Instead, they are ready for use by businesses to solve cutting-edge problems while reducing the cost of innovation at the same time.
June 12, 2009
Guest Blogging on the Boston ERISA & Insurance Litigation Blog
Stephen Rosenberg of The McCormack Firm in Boston has posted the first of four guest blog postings that I have written on invention automation on his Boston ERISA & Insurance Litigation Blog. Although a blog written by an expert on ERISA and insurance litigation may not seem a likely home for information on invention automation and its impact on patent law, Steve is also an experienced intellectual property litigator and has written frequently on his blog about patent law and other issues related to intellectual property.
Stay tuned to Steve's blog every Friday for the next few weeks for follow-up postings from me on the impact of invention automation for patent law.
June 3, 2009
The Futurist Magazine Features Invention Automation as Cover Story
My article on the automation of invention has landed as the cover story in the July-August issue of The Futurist magazine. You can purchase a print copy of the whole magazine through the Futurist web site, or buy a PDF of the article online for download.
May 28, 2009
Videos of Talk on Invention Automation Available
Some clips from a talk I gave at the MIT Technology and Culture Forum in January are now available for viewing online. Each clip stands on its own, but watching them all together will give you a better sense of the scope of the whole talk, and of the variety of topics covered in The Genie in the Machine.
May 15, 2009
Robert Plotkin Interview in MIT Technology Review
An interview with me appears in an article written by Lissa Harris in the May/June article of the MIT Technology Review. The article discusses my recent book, The Genie in the Machine, and describes problems introduced into the U.S. Patent System in the 1990s by improper quality controls on the patent examination process. As the article points out, I recommend ways in The Genie in the Machine to improve patent examination to avoid a repeat of these problems as the patent system attempts to deal with the next wave of computer-automated inventing.
May 1, 2009
Update on Availability of Genie in the Machine
Amazon.com is in the process of restocking The Genie in the Machine, after the initial stock quickly ran out. Expect it to be available for shipping again very soon. Orders are shipped on a first-come first-served basis, so if you order a copy now you will receive it as quickly as possible. Please ignore the message "Ships in 1 to 2 months" if you see it -- this is simply Amazon's way of saying that the book is temporarily out of stock.
If you can't wait for your copy, some other merchants have the book available for shipping immediately through the main Amazon page for the book, but at higher prices than Amazon itself.
April 30, 2009
Amazon.com Sells Out of Genie in the Machine Before Release Date
Amazon.com has sold out of its initial stock of The Genie in the Machine in advance of the official release date of May 1 due to overwhelming demand. The book has been ranked #1 in the category of Science and Technology Law books for the last week.
I will be working directly with the publisher, Stanford University Press, to get more copies to Amazon.com throughout the day. Thanks for your support. I will post another blog entry as soon as I have an update.
April 9, 2009
Frequently-Asked Questions About The Genie in the Machine
I've posted a set of frequently-asked questions about my upcoming book, The Genie in the Machine.
March 30, 2009
Introduction to The Genie in the Machine Now Available Online
The Introduction to my upcoming book, The Genie in the Machine, is now available online for viewing at the Stanford University Press web site. The full table of contents is also available.
For the rest of the book, you'll have to wait about another month . . .
February 16, 2009
Advance Praise for The Genie in the Machine
Advance praise for my upcoming book on computer-automated inventing, The Genie in the Machine, is starting to roll in. So far the book has received positive reviews from genetic programming pioneer John Koza, New York Times-bestselling author Dan Pink, and MIT Computer Science Professor Hal Abelson. Read what they have to say about the book here.
January 15, 2009
My Presentation Today at the MIT Technology and Culture Forum
I gave a talk today at the MIT Technology and Culture Forum on "The Future of Inventing: Automated, Collaborative, and Distributed Inventing." The talk was attended by a nice cross-section of the MIT community and engendered good discussion about the changing nature of invention.
You can download the slides for the presentation here. You will get the most of the slides if you view them in slideshow mode, since some of the slides contain animations which will not appear correctly otherwise.
I hope to post video clips from the talk soon.
November 17, 2008
My Book on Invention Automation to be Published by Stanford in Spring 2009
My book on computer-automated inventing, The Genie in the Machine: How Computer-Automated Inventing Is Revolutionizing Law and Business, is scheduled to be published by Stanford University Press in April 2009, and is available for pre-order now from Amazon.com.
Those of you who have been reading this blog over the years are already familiar with the basic themes addressed in the book. The book, however, goes into much greater depth, drawing on seven years of primary research into the topic, including dozens of interviews with pioneers in the field.
From the publisher's page:
We have long considered inventing to be a uniquely human activity. But just as the assembly line automated the process of manufacturing, today's computers are automating the process of inventing. Software can automatically generate designs for everything from toothbrushes to antennas to automobile frames more quickly and inexpensively than ever before, thereby ushering in a new era of artificial invention.
Inventors will use artificial invention technology to boost their inventive abilities to previously undreamed-of heights, enabling small teams of inventors to compete with mega-corporations who insist on inventing the old-fashioned way. Even consumers will be able to use artificial invention technology to become inventors themselves. We stand poised to see the emergence of the "digital renaissance artisan"--a person who will have the ability to not only design new inventions at the touch of a button, but also to manufacture them automatically from the comfort of home. As Robert Plotkin reveals in this landmark book, our decisions about these inventions today will dictate who gets to control this powerful technology tomorrow.
Should inventions designed by software be patentable? Should the software that produces those designs be patentable? The Genie in the Machine offers the first-ever examination of the implications of artificial invention technology for patent law, the law of invention. Along with practical advice for inventors, high-tech companies, and patent lawyers, this forward-looking book provides concrete recommendations for reforming patent law in light of the growing importance of invention-automation technology.
Advance praise for the book is already coming in. John Koza, Consulting Professor at Stanford University, has the following to say:
Plotkin's book demonstrates that computer-automated inventing is not an academic curiosity or fad, but rather a new way of inventing that will dominate the 21st Century and change how we invent--and how we think about inventing--forever.
Stay tuned for many more updates as the publication date approaches.