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Definition of AI

Published onNov 01, 2021
Definition of AI

This document is the workspace for putting together the working groups position on the topic of the “Definition of AI” in preparation for inclusion in to the final position paper.

Please see the “Definition of AI — Primer” created by the Working Group for a more detailed background on AI and the rationale behind the Working Group’s position on this topic.


Clarity on basic definitions in the AI space is a prerequisite to competent regulation in the copyright arena. AI needs to be properly understood before any copyright implications can be addressed.

“AI” itself is an evolving concept. AI is an umbrella term that encompasses, for the most part at the current time, different types of algorithms. There is a lot of confusion around related and different concepts that have come to be called “AI” such as machine learning, natural language processing, predictive models, neural networks as well as other algorithms. Essentially, any algorithm that is capable of producing generative output, classifying data, or making decisions that approximates the capabilities of humans is referred to as “AI”, particularly if this capability is novel. However, that new capability is only “AI” until it becomes normalized as simply “software” or just another algorithm. What is AI today may not be so tomorrow. As technology advances over time, what is considered “AI” as opposed to "normal software" may continually evolve. That means that whatever copyright framework is put into place, if any, it has to remain flexible enough and technology-neutral to account for and adapt to the moving-target nature of AI. There is also danger in categorizing all manner of algorithms as “AI” and in adopting rules or measures where these categories are arbitrarily determined.

  • Any policy or legal intervention in the field of copyright should be based on strong and reliable evidence and conceptual certainty, especially given the fast-paced evolution of “AI” technology. 

  • It is presently not clear what “AI” exactly is and what it is capable of producing. As things stand, the term “AI” is not defined precisely enough to be used in the copyright arena. At the very least, any document dealing with “AI” should provide or refer to a clear and precise definition of the term.

  • Given this lack of clarity on what AI really means, intervention in copyright law is premature and any policy must be carried out with caution. 

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