Machines that can write poetry, paint scenic vistas, and compose sonatas are no longer found only in science fiction. Today, artistic automatons increasingly share our world.

“Last year, we saw a real paradigm change in the ability of these generative models, now open to the public online, to make art and literature and images and text at scale in ways that have value to people,” Prof. Ryan Abbott states.

In The Reasonable Robot: Artificial Intelligence and the Law, Abbott argues that a technological society like ours must abandon discrimination between AI and human behavior and develop innovative legal principles on intellectual property to close the gap between machines and mortals.

“While legal issues have been around a long time, they have just suddenly picked up a real commercial importance, and people who weren’t looking at it before are now thinking carefully about it,” he tells me.

Click below to listen to the latest episode of the Velocity of Content podcast.

In Abbott’s view, the US and other countries should consider developing AI policies and intellectual property laws that would prove beneficial for society.

“Instead of encouraging someone to make specific creative works, you may be encouraging them to build systems that make creative works,” Abbott explains. “The more value those works have, the more you’re encouraging people to build these systems and build systems in ways that are really going to make creative works in ways we can’t now.”

Ryan Abbott, MD, JD, MTOM, PhD, is Professor of Law and Health Sciences at the University of Surrey School of Law, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, partner at Brown, Neri, Smith & Khan, LLP, and a mediator and arbitrator with JAMS, Inc. He is the author of The Reasonable Robot: Artificial Intelligence and the Law, published in 2020 by Cambridge University Press as well as the editor of the Research Handbook on Intellectual Property and Artificial Intelligence published in 2022 by Edward Elgar.

Abbott has published widely on issues associated with life sciences and intellectual property in leading legal, medical, and scientific books and journals, and his research has been featured prominently in the popular press including in The Times of London, the New York Times, the Financial Times, and other media outlets. Professor Abbott has worked as an expert for, among others, the United Kingdom Parliament, the European Commission, the World Health Organization, and the World Intellectual Property Organization. He is a licensed physician and patent attorney in the United States, and a solicitor advocate in England and Wales. Managing Intellectual Property magazine named him as one of the fifty most influential people in intellectual property in 2019 and again in 2021.


Author: Christopher Kenneally

Christopher Kenneally hosts CCC's Velocity of Content podcast series, which debuted in 2006 and is the longest continuously running podcast covering the publishing industry. As CCC's Senior Director, Marketing, he is responsible for organizing and hosting programs that address the business needs of all stakeholders in publishing and research. His reporting has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, The Independent (London), WBUR-FM, NPR, and WGBH-TV.
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