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The UN's intellectual property organisation says companies in Japan, South Korea and the US are the top filers of patent applications involving artificial intelligence.
The World Intellectual Property Organisation has issued a first report aiming to show trends in AI, seen as a growth area in coming years, although still a tiny fraction of all patent applications each year.
WIPO said Thursday that machine learning is the dominant AI technique disclosed in patents.
The report provides little in the way of analysis, such as what WIPO Director-General Francis Gurry called the "huge question" about whether artificial intelligence is "replacing or displacing employment."
It found that IBM and Microsoft have the most AI patent applications, followed by Toshiba, Samsung and NEC.
WIPO's figures run through 2016, the most recent data available.