Francis Gurry led WIPO as Director General from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2020.

WIPO Director General Opens Virtual Conference on IP and AI

July 7, 2020

International dialogue is key to ensuring a contemporary, common understanding of issues related to intellectual property (IP) and artificial intelligence (AI), WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said while opening the Second Session of the Conversation on IP and AI.

Mr. Gurry said that more than 2,000 registrants from 130 countries had signed up to join the meeting, held July 7-9, 2020 in a virtual session due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

AI has now grown into a "major general-use technology" that is having a significant economic and societal impact and is prompting profoundly complex policy questions, Mr. Gurry said.

The goal of WIPO's current IP and AI process is to help surface the most-pressing issues related to IP and AI that policy makers will ultimately face, Mr. Gurry said.

(Photo: WIPO/Berrod)

"First of all, we seek to keep our understanding of the impact of artificial intelligence apace with the development of the technology," Mr. Gurry said of the IP-AI conversation. "If we can succeed in maintaining a rough equivalence between our understanding of the development and evolution and deployment of the technology in such an important area as artificial intelligence, that, of course, would be extremely helpful.”

"And the second premise really is that the best way to do that is through dialogue and in particular international dialogue based on shared knowledge and understanding, and the sharing of practices, which will enable all of us to advance understanding," Mr. Gurry said.

Mr. Gurry thanked Ambassador François Rivasseau, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva, for his role as moderator, along with all the participants.

Among the first-day speakers was United Arab Emirates, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence Omar Sultan Al Olama.

Mr. Al Olama said that the increased digitization of work that had gone virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well his government's experience in the successful transition to remote work, had underlined a new need for IP in the current era.

"This advancement has created a need to take a quantum leap in the advancement of intellectual property protection, both for and from artificial intelligence. This advancement cannot happen without dialogue, without sharing practices and without cooperating," he said.

Background: IP and AI

Mr. Gurry convened the First Session of the WIPO Conversation on IP and AI in September 2019, bringing together member states and other stakeholders in an open forum to discuss the impact of Al on IP policy.

WIPO subsequently developed for public consultation a compendium of the most-pressing questions likely to face IP policy makers from the impact of Al on IP policy. The paper received more than 250 submissions and comments from a wide global audience.

A Revised Issues Paper was published in May 2020 taking into account the comments and forming the basis of the Second Session of the Conversation held this week.

AI is increasingly driving important developments in technology and business. It is being employed across a range of industries, from telecommunications to autonomous vehicles.

Increasing stores of big data and advances in affordable high computing power are fueling AI’s growth. AI has a significant impact on the creation, production and distribution of economic and cultural goods and services. Since one of the main aims of the IP system is to stimulate innovation and creativity in the economic and cultural systems, AI intersects with IP in a number of ways.

In January 2019, WIPO issued a study that surveyed the landscape of AI innovation. The “WIPO Technology Trends” report provides a common information base on AI for policy and decision makers in government and business, as well as concerned citizens across the globe.

WIPO then spearheaded the series of consultations with member states and other stakeholders to better understand the intersection between IP policy and AI.