Moore’s Law, which effectively states that production microchips double in processing power approximately every two years, is also observable in the world of university technology transfer. An increasing number of research institutions are producing a rapidly-growing stream of powerful new IP. With open innovation trends connecting these discoveries on a global network, we can expect the rate of technological advancement to accelerate as well.
In the last three years, the number of international university patents that have been granted worldwide has increased by at least 20,000 every year. In 2013, about 46,000 were granted, and last year it grew to over 120,000. The increasing flow of new discoveries is attributed to a larger number of institutions expanding research efforts. Approximately 4,500 institutions produce 80% of the world’s new university technology, and now they all exist on a single, easily-tapped network. So we must expect the rate of our technological advancement to increase exponentially, creating products and processes that are unrecognizably sophisticated compared to their previous iterations.
One of the many institutions fueling the pipeline of new discoveries is the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In the last seven years, the USDA has spent nearly $20 billion researching a variety of eco-conscious technologies: wood-fiber microchips to futuristic “gene-editing” technologies that can reduce illness susceptibility in livestock. Additionally, the USDA was granted over 90 patents last year alone. This is just one institution of thousands worldwide that are producing a higher number of patented technologies per year.
In the United States alone, corporate R&D was collectively backed by an annual budget of $145 billion in 2015. Global R&D spending increased by an average of 6.7% every year from 2001-2011. This staggering rate of growth continues to push the bounds of an omnipotent level of technology. In this same time frame, the annual rate of R&D spending grew 20.7% in China, showing the breakneck speed of innovation in the world’s most important developing market.
The rapidly accelerating pace of innovation calls to mind the theory of technological singularity in artificial intelligence (AI). This theory states that eventually AI systems will evolve to the point where they can repair and upgrade themselves. This is something of a tipping point for AI, when its usefulness becomes outweighed by its potential threat to humanity. Innovation is following a similar trend, in that the answers to our technological shortfalls are being answered ever more quickly. And now that any institution, corporation or government can pull from the global body of knowledge as a whole, technological advancement is heading to a singularity of innovation, where every problem is solved instantaneously. Even now, we frequently see the stuff of dreams turn into yesterday’s marvels, as our expectations are continuously leap-frogged by the current global vitalization and unification of research efforts.
The stream of new innovations is clearly reaching this singularity. In the future, IP will be created more rapidly by a global network of researchers in various degrees of collaboration with each other, existing knowledge and AI algorithms. Somewhere along this pattern of growth, a full confluence of AI systems and IP creation technology will occur. A likely result of this convergence of AI and IP will be an on-demand system, where protectable IP is generated to order from an AI interface and powerful inventive algorithms. Theoretically, an AI system could generalize existing patent information into new, unique innovations. This means that we could have a systematic process in place for inventions that invent for us—truly a new stage in human technological development. The potential is limitless with the addition of other emerging technologies, such as AR interfaces and 3D printing.
With all this considered, it is easy to envision a future where new technologies are not only conceived in a moment, but are manifested on the spot. Imagine a mundane solution is needed such as a replacement battery and your work PC (a combined AI-IP creation system) can find the technology, license and 3D print it right there in a matter of minutes. Or imagine you need something more complex, like a maximum-efficiency solar cell and your PC reviews all the existing patents for solar technologies, combines them with a spark of intuition, and creates a sufficiently unique new design for an improved solar cell. Furthermore, it is automatically patented and out-licensed as part of the process. In conclusion, as technology becomes ever more transparent in our lives, we can assume creativity and continuous improvements will follow suit.
Tekcapital has built a global network that captures the university intellectual property (UIP) from over 4,000 research institutions. Contact us today to find out how we can help you grow your business with UIP.