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robot ai employmentIn his 2013 book, Our Final Invention, documentary filmmaker James Barrat explores the perils and promises of artificial intelligence (AI). The book’s ominous subtitle, Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era, echoes similar dire sentiments regarding the ultimate consequences of mankind’s quest for fully functioning AI, including from celebrated theorists such as Stephen Hawking (“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race”) and Claude Shannon (“I visualize a time when we will be to robots what dogs are to humans.”).

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iStock-931658224-energy-trading-blockchain-300x180The use of blockchain and cryptocurrency platforms continues to evolve and expand into new markets. We recently highlighted the new patent issued to tZERO covering blockchain-based methods and systems to trade “digital transactional items,” so it should be no surprise that another company—UK-based VAKT—has developed a blockchain platform for energy commodity trading.

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iStock-949494094-hashtag-trademark-300x188In today’s world, most businesses use hashtags to boost their brand awareness and promote their products and services on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words”—posting a great photo of a product with the right #hashtag, and the attention received can go from “scant” to “deluged” in moments. Such posts can promote higher customer engagement, attract more likes and new followers, and in short provide fantastic and efficient publicity for businesses.

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On January 7, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office released new guidance for how patent examiners should evaluate patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. In “Evaluating the Evaluation: Breaking Down New USPTO Guidance for Patent-Eligible Subject Matter,” colleagues Jack S. Barufka, Ngai Zhang, Matthew W. Hindman and Tiffany C. Kuo examine the new guidance—and what it means for patent eligibility going forward.

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cryptocurrencyWith bitcoin prices rising from the dead over the last few weeks (up nearly 25% from a December 14 low), there’s a degree of renewed excitement regarding blockchain and cryptocurrency. But as general public interest rises and falls, the steady process of creating useful applications and systems for distributed ledger technology continues. The issuing of new patents is one observable part of this process, and as such, it’s worth noting that trading platform tZERO, a portfolio company of the e-commerce giant Overstock, was recently awarded a patent outlining how it may merge legacy trading systems with cryptocurrencies and digital asset technology.

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Thieves loot some Ethereum; chat apps and the IoT attract unwanted attention; AI detects viruses … and password sharing; and more …

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ai-money-launderingIn the popular Netflix series Ozark, money launderer Marty Byrde expends a lot of time and energy mitigating the risks that relate to his work, including his drug cartel client, a pair of farmers, the local pastor, and his own employee and her relatives—but financial regulators never appear to be a blip on his radar. Would the series turn out differently if Marty’s bank had used artificial intelligence to examine his deposits?

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twitterIn a time when information is increasingly shared through social media, companies—particularly publicly traded ones—must recognize and consider the potential legal ramifications that could arise from statements made by executives, board members, and/or other employees about the company on social media. Though the actions of a certain well-known technology entrepreneur have provided perhaps the most prominent example of these ramifications, there are plenty of other cautionary tales reminding us that a powerful marketing tool that allows company CEOs to connect directly with consumers carries a host of possible legal consequences. Among the most potentially damaging—time-consuming and costly securities-related litigation, both with complaints involving the SEC and private shareholder litigation.

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iStock-178101320-twibel-300x201Earlier this month, we discussed the ways in which companies should navigate negative critiques and reputation management in the Age of Social Media. One option includes the pursuit of litigation, often demonstrated through claims for defamation. This course of action can typically be found in the context of a negative review: a company provides a service, customer is unhappy with the service, customer posts negative review about company online. In California, a company that wishes to claim said review has crossed a line must then prove (1) the customer made a false, defamatory statement concerning the company, (2) the customer made an unprivileged publication to a third party, (3) the publisher of the false statements acted at least negligently in its publication, and (4) the statement had a natural tendency to injure or cause special damage.

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Algorithms behave pretty much as they are programmed to (for good and ill); augmented reality continues to seep into the auto industry; humans strive for immortality; and more …

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