Wednesday, July 03, 2024

Can knowledge be IP'ed? Mustafa Suleyman, the CEO of Microsoft’s new AI division, seems to think No.

    Wednesday, July 03, 2024   No comments

IA is another turning point in history, and its main impact may not be the kind of information IA will generate, but access to knowledge; it may put front and center the legal protections of content under patent and copyright laws that distinguished the modern civilization. This is the case because the civilization that preceded the Western civilization, the Islamic civilization, has always treated knowledge as an accretive body of knowledge that produced by all and belongs to none. The Islamic view can be gleaned from observing Muslim thinkers’ disinterest (or lack of care) in meticulous refencing and footnoting. They don’t claim they are the creator of ideas, and they don’t think anyone else had; knowledge is possible only when it is open and accessible so that it is checked and improved by the collective. Ibn Khaldun, the last classic thinker of the Islamic civilization closed his remarkable work, al-Muqaddima, by inviting future generation of thinkers to assess his and improve on it; not by taking credit for any ideas that he put forth to the exclusion of all the contributions of generations before him.

AI brings this matter front and center: AI depend on digital knowledge that it can process to provide answers. If that knowledge is shielded, AI potential will be limited. Here is a starting point for this conversation.

Mustafa Suleyman, the CEO of Microsoft’s new AI division, recently said in an interview with CNBC’s Andrew Ross that anything you publish on the internet becomes ‘freeware’ and that it can be copied and used to train AI models.

“With respect to content that is already on the open web, the social contract of that content since the 90s has been that it is fair use. Anyone can copy it, recreate with it, reproduce with it. That has been freeware, if you like. That’s been the understanding.”

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