THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 20 February 2020 (Machines are now formally part of knowledge economy (The Hindu))

Machines are now formally part of knowledge economy (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 3: Science and Tech
Prelims level: Artificial intelligence
Mains level: Copyright protection to AI-generated content


  • A recent Chinese court ruling marks a great leap forward for artificial intelligence (AI).
  • The People’s Court of Nanshan District of Shenzhen has ruled that that content created by an AI programme is protected by copyright laws, and the makers of the AI programme hold the intellectual property rights for the content.


  • This appears to be the world’s first case involving IPRs and artificial intelligence — the nuts and bolts of business of the future.
  • The court has held that Shanghai Yingxun Technology Company’s act last year of reproducing an article written by Dreamwriter AI Writing Robot, owned by tech giant Tencent, comes under the purview of copyright breach.
  • It has asked the company to pay a fine of 1,500 yuan ($216).
  • This ruling comes at a juncture in the evolution of AI when lawmakers, companies, IP rights activists and technologists from myriad geographies are engaged in intricate and intense debates over how intellectual contributions and creations from AI should be treated, especially in the content industry.

Tencent article’s eligibility for copyright cover:

  • The Shenzhen court said the article’s form of expression conforms to the requirements of written work, its structure was reasonable, the logic was clear and it had a “certain originality”.
  • The ruling also means work authored by a non-human can be or should be treated at par with a work created by human intelligence.
  • This poses a volley of philosophical and ethical questions. The advancements in deep tech, especially machine learning, have blurred lines between the creativity of humans and machines.
  • The answers will have long-lasting ramifications for society, business and policy. That the court intervention comes from China is also significant.
  • The country is an AI front-runner with its companies having applied so far for over 4,50,000 (and counting) AI patents .

Way ahead:

  • Tencent, ranked second in terms of the number of AI-related patent applications with more than 4,115 filings, has been using AI to produce content for nearly five years.
  • In all likelihood, the China court ruling will be emulated by IP courts elsewhere and the results can influence the legality, distribution and ownership of AI products and services.
  • But companies and courts must apply caution while super-imposing ‘human’ rights into AI and try to approach such issues on a case-by-case basis. The inclusive reach of technology and the greater common good must stay paramount.

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    General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Materials

Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the manual scavenging, consider the following statements:
1. It is banned under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.
2. According to National Commission for Safai Karamcharis, the number of people who died while cleaning sewers and septic tanks in the country decreased by almost 62% in 2019 as compared to 2018.

Which of the statements given above are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) None of the above

Ans: A
Mains Questions:

Q.1) The China court ruling that gave copyright protection to AI-generated content opens many doors, but also poses a volley of questions. Critically comment.