UN predicts surge of AI-based products

The United Nations (UN) is predicting several industries will see a wave of AI-based products and apps in the near future, after its latest report revealed more than 340,000 AI-related patent applications have been filed since the technology emerged in the 1950s. More than half of those patient applications were published after 2013.

“Patenting activity in the artificial intelligence realm is rising at a rapid pace, meaning we can expect a very significant number of new AI-based products, applications and techniques that will alter our daily lives––and also shape future human interaction with the machines we created,” Francis Gurry, director general of the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), said in a statement.

WIPO recently released its inaugural Technology Trends report, which serves as a common information base on AI for policy and decision makers in government, as well as concerned citizens across the globe. The report analyzed data in patent applications and scientific publications to better understand the latest trends in AI.

Key findings in the report also revealed the top industries for AI are:

  • Transportation, with 8,764 AI-related patent filings in 2016
  • Telecommunications, with 6,684 filings in 2016
  • Life and medical sciences, 4,112 filings in 2016
  • Personal devices, 3,977 filings in 2016

Life and medical sciences had just 2,942 filings in 2013 and saw an 40 percent overall increase between 2013 and 2016. Additionally, 11 percent of all the identified patent documents between 2013 and 2016 were related to life and medical sciences.

Other findings:

  • IBM had the largest portfolio of AI patent applications, with 8,290 inventions at the end of 2016. Microsoft had 5,930 applications.
  • Machine learning has been the dominant AI technique disclosed in patents and was included in more than one-third of all identified inventions. Machine-learning techniques were disclosed in 20,195 patent applications in 2016, compared to just 9,567 in 2013—an overall increase of 111 percent.
  • AI for robotics grew from 622 patent applications in 2013 to 2,272 in 2016—a 265 percent overall increase.