!20200612 Are outputs of the "Artificial Chemist" KSR-predictably obvious?

But first, ...

A nice graphic of Earth core structures.

35 USC 112 enablement requires writing well. So I always look for good science and engineering writing to learn from. Here's is one. Phys.org science news blog has a nice article on new discoveries about the structure of the Earth's core. Look at the graphics - nice. Text too. Interesting reading at: https://phys.org/news/2020-06-scientists-unexpected-widespread-earth-core.html

---    Are outputs of the "Artificial Chemist" KSR-predictably obvious?

Some years ago at North Carolina State University, at a symposium on drug discovery tools, I gave a talk on the patent aspects of such tools, in particular, the growing threat of KSR's "predictability" test. My argument was that in time, the declining curve of the unconstitutional illogic of KSR will intersect the rising curve of the growing power of drug discovery programs. When they intersect, we are going to see patent-hating judges ruling that the outputs of such programs are nothing more than the predictable outcomes of PHOSITAs using standard tools, that there was no human inventor involved - the "whoever" of 101 - and thus the results are unpatentable.

Well, it is bittersweet that a recent death knell in this dilemma comes out of North Carolina State University, a drug discovery tool named the "Artificial Chemist". Let me quote one KEY sentence from the Abstract to their paper ('QD' is quantum dot):
... eleven precision‐tailored QD synthesis compositions are obtained without any prior knowledge, within 30 h, using less than 210 mL of total starting QD solutions, and without user selection of experiments.
Greg note: is there a human inventor here? Who is the 35 USC 101-"Whoever" here?
Is a computer program 'ever' a 'who'? Do we need Dr. Seuss on the CAFC?
... eleven precision‐tailored QD synthesis compositions are obtained without any prior knowledge, within 30 h, using less than 210 mL of total starting QD solutions, and without user selection of experiments.
Fantastic for consumers and users of quantum dots. But all of the results of this program are the "predictable" results of the normal activities of PHOSITAs doing nothing more than pressing the "RUN" key on the computer - which isn't inventing. And thus KSR-NON-PATENTABLE.

This has always been the obscene, unconstitutional illogic of son-of-Cuno KSR. 35 USC 103 says the manner of discovery IN ALL FCKIN CASES - even if Cuno's "mere" - does not obviate patentability:

Patentability shall not be negated by the manner in which the invention was made.

But the archbishops on the Supreme Court, closer to God, ruled "Screw Congress. Ignore the Separation of Power. If the manner of discovery is merely predictable, we nullify 35 USC 103 and rule it is obvious and unpatentable."

For history buffs: KSR nullified 35 USC 103's anti-Cuno language, language put into 103 by Congress in 1952 to nullify the 1940's Cuno's decision's "mere" language that created the you-can-only-patent "flash of genius" inventions. But the Supreme Court hates letting Congress set patent policy, so they waited decades until everyone forgot Cuno's "mere" illogic to vomit out KSR's "predictable" to negate "shall not be negated".

So, as the drug discovery programs become more powerful (and circuit design programs, and mechanical CAD programs), some future questions in all patent litigation (and patent examination) will be: Answer yes to any of these questions, and sharp litigators (which excludes Microsoft's patent defense lawyers, and Google's lawyers in its Oracle case) are going to dumpster-dive through KSR-103 caselaw to come up with an obvious argument that some federal judge will buy. And in the current we-hate-inventors regime of the CAFC, I am sure that there will be at least one 3-judge panel that upholds. And once they do, USPTO examiners have a new hand-waving unpatentablility weapon to add to their arsenal (along with "abstract") - "Your invention has no human inventor, is a predictable outcome of a PHOSITA's efforts using tools by pressing "RUN", and as ruled by the CAFC in Dewey-Hatem & Kyllum, such inventions are not patentable. I reject."

So if you, a patent prosecutor, want to avoid some malpractice, you really need to start explaining the following to your clients: "You should know that the courts are grasping at any illogic to kill patents. If you file today, your patent application and patent will be exposed to judicial whims for the next 20 years. As the drug/circuit/gizmo design programs get more powerful, at some point, judges will start issuing AI-based 103 KSR-predictable rejections (or uphold such USPTO rejections)."

And patent lawyers will be unable to escape this duty of disclosure. One of the most powerful patent analysis tools is under development, and it has a whole section of rules on detecting new inventions that are/could-be outputs of AI CAD programs. An analysis tool that patent litigators will drool millions over. And the sad thing is, patent quality is so bad, that this section of rules will often do little more than kill the already dead.

---    Artificial Chemist: An Autonomous Quantum Dot Synthesis Bot

     Robert Epps et alia, North Carolina State Univ., June 2020
     Advanced Materials, June 2020 epub
      https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/adma.202001626 (locked)

The optimal synthesis of advanced nanomaterials with numerous reaction parameters, stages, and routes, poses one of the most complex challenges of modern colloidal science, and current strategies often fail to meet the demands of these combinatorially large systems. In response, an Artificial Chemist is presented: the integration of machine‐learning‐based experiment selection and high‐efficiency autonomous flow chemistry. With the self‐driving Artificial Chemist, made‐to‐measure inorganic perovskite quantum dots (QDs) in flow are autonomously synthesized, and their quantum yield and composition polydispersity at target bandgaps, spanning 1.9 to 2.9 eV, are simultaneously tuned. Utilizing the Artificial Chemist, eleven precision‐tailored QD synthesis compositions are obtained without any prior knowledge, within 30 h, using less than 210 mL of total starting QD solutions, and without user selection of experiments. Using the knowledge generated from these studies, the Artificial Chemist is pre‐trained to use a new batch of precursors and further accelerate the synthetic path discovery of QD compositions, by at least twofold. The knowledge‐transfer strategy further enhances the optoelectronic properties of the in‐flow synthesized QDs (within the same resources as the no‐prior‐knowledge experiments) and mitigates the issues of batch‐to‐batch precursor variability, resulting in QDs averaging within 1 meV from their target peak emission energy.

---    'Artificial chemist' combines AI, robotics to conduct autonomous R&D

     Science Daily, 04 June 2020

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the University at Buffalo have developed a technology called "Artificial Chemist," which incorporates artificial intelligence (AI) and an automated system for performing chemical reactions to accelerate R&D and manufacturing of commercially desirable materials.

In proof-of-concept experiments, the researchers demonstrated that Artificial Chemist can identify and produce the best possible quantum dots for any color in 15 minutes or less. Quantum dots are colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals, which are used in applications such as LED displays.

However, the researchers are quick to note that Artificial Chemist can identify the best material to meet any suite of measurable properties -- not just quantum dots.

"Artificial Chemist is a truly autonomous system that can intelligently navigate through the chemical universe," says Milad Abolhasani, corresponding author of a paper on the work and an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at NC State. "Currently, Artificial Chemist is designed for solution-processed materials -- meaning it works for materials that can be made using liquid chemical precursors. Solution-processed materials include high-value materials such as quantum dots, metal/metal oxide nanoparticles, metal organic frameworks (MOFs), and so on.

"The Artificial Chemist is similar to a self-driving car, but a self-driving car at least has a finite number of routes to choose from in order to reach its pre-selected destination. With Artificial Chemist, you give it a set of desired parameters, which are the properties you want the final material to have. Artificial Chemist has to figure out everything else, such as what the chemical precursors will be and what the synthetic route will be, while minimizing the consumption of those chemical precursors.

"The end result is a fully autonomous materials development technology that not only helps you find the ideal solution-processed material more quickly than any techniques currently in use, but it does so using tiny amounts of chemical precursors. That significantly reduces waste and makes the materials development process much less expensive."
Greg note: IN THE HANDS OF A PHOSITA, THE OUTPUTS OF THIS PROGRAM ARE THE PREDICTABLE OUTCOMES THAT KSR RULED ARE OBVIOUSLY AND UNPATENTABLE. This has always been the obscene, unconstitutional illogic of KSR. 35 USC 103 says the manner of discovery IN ALL FCKIN CASES does not obviate patentability. But the archbishops on the Supreme Court, closer to God, ruled "Screw Congress. Ignore the Separation of Power. If the manner of discovery is 'merely' predictable, we nullify 35 USC 103 and rule it is obvious and unpatentable."
The Artificial Chemist has both a "body" for performing experiments and sensing the experimental results, and a "brain" for recording that data and using it to determine what the next experiment will be.

For their proof-of-concept testing, Artificial Chemist's body incorporated the automated Nanocrystal Factory and NanoRobo flow synthesis platforms developed in Abolhasani's lab. The Artificial Chemist platform has demonstrated that it can run 500 quantum dot synthesis experiments per day, though Abolhasani estimates it could run as many as 1,000.

The Artificial Chemist's brain is an AI program that characterizes the materials being synthesized by the body and uses that data to make autonomous decisions about what the next set of experimental conditions will be. It bases its decisions on what it determines will most efficiently move it toward the best material composition with the desired properties and performance metrics.

"We tried to mimic the process that humans use when making decisions, but more efficiently," Abolhasani says.

For example, Artificial Chemist allows "knowledge transfer," meaning that it stores data generated from every request it receives, expediting the process of identifying the next candidate material it is tasked with. In other words, Artificial Chemist gets smarter and faster over time at identifying the right material.

For their proof of concept, the researchers tested nine different policies for how the AI uses data to decide what the next experiment will be. They then ran a series of requests, each time asking Artificial Chemist to identify a quantum dot material that was the best fit for three different output parameters.

"We found a policy that, even without prior knowledge, could identify the best quantum dot possible within 25 experiments, or about one-and-a-half hours," Abolhasani says. "But once Artificial Chemist had prior knowledge -- meaning that it had already handled one or more target material requests -- it could identify the optimal material for new properties in 10 to 15 minutes.

"We found that Artificial Chemist could also rapidly identify the boundaries of materials properties for a given set of starting chemical precursors, so that chemists and materials scientists do not need to waste their time on exploring different synthesis conditions.

"I believe autonomous materials R&D enabled by Artificial Chemist can re-shape the future of materials development and manufacturing," Abolhasani says. "I'm now looking for partners to help us transfer the technique from the lab to the industrial sector."
Greg note: Hey! Industrial Sector! AVOID THIS ARTIFICIAL CHEMIST LIKE THE PLAGUE. Nothing you invent with it will be patentable. Nothing.

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Greg Aharonian
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