Professor Ryan Abbott

Research Interests

Professor Abbott has a variety of research interests that reflect his multi-disciplinary background. He writes on a range of topics related to health law, intellectual property, as well as law and technology. He has published significant works on health care financing, access to medicines, and big data. He has also completed clinical studies in medicine, and legal research projects related to traditional knowledge, integrative health, and emerging technologies. For further information and downloadable papers, please see SSRN

Prospective students interested in pursuing research matching his scholarly and research interests are welcome to make informal enquiries. 

Departmental Duties

Director of Research (Impact)

Select Videos of Professor Abbott

Debate with Richard Epstein. "FDA Involvement in Off-Label Drug Use." Jan 13, 2014. Watch.

UCLA School of Medicine Surgery Grand Rounds. "California's Malpractice System: Fair or Failed?" Aug 27, 2014. Watch.

Select Media Coverage

TRT World, Rise of the Robots: Part I (Watch) and Part II (Watch).

BBC, Free Thinking Radio 3. Robots, Makt Myrkranna. Listen

Scott Graham. "Patent Law at the AI Crossroads." Law.com. April 1, 2016. View.

"Measles Outbreak: Expert Weighs in on Vaccine Debate." ABC7. February 4, 2015. (Video). Watch.

“Perineal Self-Acupressure for Constipation?” New England Journal of Medicine Journal Watch (Audio). May 7, 2015. Listen

Basken, Paul. “Supreme Court's Ruling on Gene Patents Opens New Avenues for University Research.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. 17 Jun. 2013. View.

Wharton, David. "Pac-12 Football Coaches Hush-Hush About Hurt Players." Los Angeles Times, 20 Sep. 2012: C1. Print. View.

Contact Me

E-mail:
Phone: 01483 68 2851

Find me on campus
Room: 3 AB 05


My office hours

By appointment.

Publications

Journal articles

  • Abbott R , Bogenschneider B . (2018) 'Should Robots Pay Taxes? Tax Policy in the Age of Automation'. Harvard Law & Policy Review,
    [ Status: Accepted ]

    Abstract

    Existing technologies can already automate most work functions, and the cost of these technologies is decreasing at a time when human labor costs are increasing. This, combined with ongoing advances in computing, artificial intelligence, and robotics, has led experts to predict that automation will lead to significant job losses and worsening income inequality. Policy makers are actively debating how to deal with these problems, with most proposals focusing on investing in education to train workers in new job types, or investing in social benefits to distribute the gains of automation. The importance of tax policy has been neglected in this debate, which is unfortunate because such policies are critically important. The tax system incentivizes automation even in cases where it is not otherwise efficient. That is because the vast majority of tax revenue is now derived from labor income, so firms avoid taxes by eliminating employees. More importantly, when a machine replaces a person, the government loses a substantial amount of tax revenue—potentially trillions of dollars a year in the aggregate. All of this is the unintended result of a system designed to tax labor rather than capital. Such a system no longer works once the labor is capital. Robots are not good taxpayers. We argue that existing tax policies must be changed. The system should be at least “neutral” as between robot and human workers, and automation should not be allowed to reduce tax revenue. This could be achieved by disallowing corporate tax deductions for automated workers, creating an “automation tax” which mirrors existing unemployment schemes, granting offsetting tax preferences for human workers, levying a corporate self-employment tax, or increasing the corporate tax rate. We argue the ideal solution may be a combination of these proposals.

  • Abbott R . (2017) 'Autonomous Machines and their Inventions'. Wolters Kluwer Mitteilungen, , pp. pp. 429-437.
    [ Status: Accepted ]

    Abstract

    In some cases, a computer’s output constitutes patentable subject matter, and the computer rather than a person meets the requirements for inventorship. As such machines become an increasingly common part of the inventive process, they may replace the standard of the person skilled in the art now used to judge nonobviousness. Creative computers require a rethinking of the criteria for inventiveness, and potentially of the entire patent system.

  • Abbott R . (2017) 'Patenting the Output of Autonomously Inventive Machines'. American Bar Association Landslide, 10 (1), pp. pp. 16-22.

    Abstract

    An innovation revolution is on the horizon. Artificial intelligence (AI) has been generating inventive output for decades, and now the continued and exponential growth in computing power is poised to take creative machines from novelties to major drivers of economic growth. A creative singularity in which computers overtake human inventors as the primary source of new discoveries is foreseeable.

  • Abbott R . (2017) 'The Reasonable Computer: Disrupting the Paradigm of Tort Liability'. George Washington Law Review, 86
    [ Status: Accepted ]

    Abstract

    Artificial intelligence is part of our daily lives. Whether working as taxi drivers, financial analysts, or airport security, computers are taking over a growing number of tasks once performed by people. As this occurs, computers will also cause the injuries inevitably associated with these activities. Accidents happen, and now computer-generated accidents happen. The recent fatality caused by Tesla’s autonomous driving software is just one example in a long series of “computer-generated torts.” Yet hysteria over such injuries is misplaced. In fact, machines are, or at least have the potential to be, substantially safer than people. Self-driving cars will cause accidents, but they will cause fewer accidents than human drivers. Because automation will result in substantial safety benefits, tort law should encourage its adoption as a means of accident prevention. Under current legal frameworks, manufacturers (and retailers) of computer tortfeasors are likely strictly responsible for their harms. This article argues that where a manufacturer can show that an autonomous computer, robot, or machine is safer than a reasonable person, the manufacturer should be liable in negligence rather than strict liability. The negligence test would focus on the computer’s act instead of its design, and in a sense, it would treat a computer tortfeasor as a person rather than a product. Negligence-based liability would create a powerful incentive to automate when doing so would reduce accidents, and it would continue to reward manufactures for improving safety. In fact, principles of harm avoidance suggest that once computers become safer than people, human tortfeasors should no longer be judged against the standard of the hypothetical reasonable person that has been employed for hundreds of years. Rather, individuals should be measured against computers. To appropriate the immortal words of Justice Holmes, we are all “hasty and awkward” compared to the reasonable computer.

  • Abbott R , Chang D, Eyre H, Bousman C, Merrill D, Lavretsky H. (2017) 'Pharmacogenetic Decision Support Tools: A New Paradigm for Late-Life Depression?'. Elsevier American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry,

    Abstract

    Clinicians still employ a “trial-and-error” approach to optimizing treatment regimens for late-life depression (LLD). With LLD affecting a significant and growing segment of the population, and with only about half of older adults responsive to antidepressant therapy, there is an urgent need for a better treatment paradigm. Pharmacogenetic decision support tools (DSTs), which are emerging technologies that aim to provide clinically actionable information based on a patient’s genetic profile, offer a promising solution. Dozens of DSTs have entered the market in the past fifteen years, but with varying level of empirical evidence to support their value. In this clinical review, we provide a critical analysis of the peer-reviewed literature on DSTs for major depression management. We then discuss clinical considerations for the use of these tools in treating LLD, including issues related to test interpretation, timing, and patient perspectives. There are no primary clinical trials in LLD cohorts. However, in adult populations, newer generation DSTs show promise for the treatment of major depression. Further independent and head-to-head clinical trials are required to further validate this field.

  • Abbott R . (2016) 'I Think, Therefore I Invent: Creative Computers and the Future of Patent Law'. Boston CollegeLaw Boston College Law Review, 57 (4), pp. 1079-1126.

    Abstract

    Artificial intelligence has been generating inventive output for decades, and now the continued and exponential growth in computing power is poised to take creative machines from novelties to major drivers of economic growth. In some cases, a computer’s output constitutes patentable subject matter, and the computer rather than a person meets the requirements for inventorship. Despite this, and despite the fact that the Patent Office has already granted patents for inventions by computers, the issue of computer inventorship has never been explicitly considered by the courts, Congress, or the Patent Office. Drawing on dynamic principles of statutory interpretation and taking analogies from the copyright context, this Article argues that creative computers should be considered inventors under the Patent and Copyright Clause of the Constitution. Treating nonhumans as inventors would incentivize the creation of intellectual property by encouraging the development of creative computers. This Article also addresses a host of challenges that would result from computer inventorship, including the ownership of computer-based inventions, the displacement of human inventors, and the need for consumer protection policies. This analysis applies broadly to nonhuman creators of intellectual property, and explains why the Copyright Office came to the wrong conclusion with its Human Authorship Requirement. Finally, this Article addresses how computer inventorship provides insight into other areas of patent law. For instance, computers could replace the hypothetical skilled person that courts use to judge inventiveness. Creative computers may require a rethinking of the baseline standard for inventiveness, and potentially of the entire patent system.

  • Abbott R. (2015) 'FDA in the Twenty-First Century: The Challenges of Regulating Drugs and New Technologies'. Oxford University Press Journal of Law and the Biosciences, 3 (1), pp. 248-252.
  • Abbott, R., M.D., J.D. , Smith DE. (2015) 'The New Designer Drug Wave: A Clinical, Toxicological, and Legal Analysis'. Routledge Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 47 (5), pp. 368-371.
  • Abbott R, Hui KK. (2015) 'Perineal Self-Acupressure’s Mechanism of Action'. Springer New York LLC Journal of General Internal Medicine, 30 (4), pp. 399-399.
  • Abbott R, Ayres I. (2014) 'Evidence and extrapolation: Mechanisms for regulating off-label uses of drugs and devices'. Duke University School of Law Duke Law Journal, 64 (3), pp. 377-435.
  • Alabbadi I, Abbott R, Jaber D. (2014) 'Jordanian stakeholder attitudes toward generic substitution'. SAGE Publications Ltd Journal of Generic Medicines, 11 (1-2), pp. 24-34.
  • Abbott R, Ayres I, Hui E, Hui KK. (2014) 'Effect of Perineal Self-Acupressure on Constipation: A Randomized Controlled Trial'. Springer New York LLC Journal of General Internal Medicine, 30 (4), pp. 434-439.
  • Abbott R. (2014) 'Post-Market Drug Regulation in the Age of Big Data: What Path to the Promised Land?'. Food and Drug Law Insititute FDLI's Food and Drug Policy Forum, 4 (10), pp. 1-14.
  • Abbott R, Ayres I. (2014) 'Can Bayesian Extrapolation Improve FDA Regulation of Off-Label Uses of Drugs and Devices?'. Food and Drug Law Institute FDLI's Food and Drug Policy Forum, 4 (5), pp. 1-12.
  • Abbott R. (2014) 'Documenting Traditional Medical Knowledge'. World Intellectual Property Organization World Intellectual Property Organization,
  • Epstein R, Abbott R. (2014) 'Involvement in Off-Label Use: Debate Between Richard Epstein and Ryan Abbott'. Southwestern Law School Southwestern Law Review, 44 (1)
  • Abbott R. (2014) 'Balancing Access and Innovation in India's Shifting IP Regime, Remarks'. Whittier Law Review, 35, pp. 341-341.
  • Abbott R, Stevens C. (2014) 'Redefining Medical Necessity: A Consumer-Driven Solution to the U.S. Health Care Crisis'. Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review Loyola Law Review, 47 (4), pp. 943-943.
  • Abbott R, Cohen M. (2013) 'Medico-legal issues in cardiology'. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins Cardiology in Review, 21 (5), pp. 222-228.
  • Cohen MH, Natbony SR, Abbott RB. (2013) 'Complementary and alternative medicine in child and adolescent psychiatry: Legal considerations'. Elsevier Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 22 (3), pp. 493-507.
  • Abbott R, Lavretsky H. (2013) 'Tai Chi and Qi Gong for Treatment and Prevention of Mental Disorders'. Elsevier Psychiatr Clin North Am, 36 (1), pp. 109-119.
  • Abbott R, Lavretsky H. (2013) 'Tai Chi and Qigong for the Treatment and Prevention of Mental Disorders'. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 36 (1), pp. 109-119.
  • Abbott R. (2013) 'Big data and pharmacovigilance: Using health information exchanges to revolutionize drug safety'. Iowa Law Review Iowa Law Review, 99 (1), pp. 225-292.
  • Abbott R. (2012) 'Overcoming Barriers to a Global Treaty on Medical Funding and R&D'. Journal of the Brazilian Institute for Intellectual Property, 7, pp. 70-76.
  • Abbott RB, Bader R, Bajjali L, Elsamen TA, Obeidat T, Sboul H, Shwayat M, Alabbadi I. (2012) 'The price of medicines in Jordan: The cost of trade-based intellectual property'. Sage Journal of Generic Medicines, 9 (2), pp. 75-85.
  • Abbott R. (2012) 'Treating the Health Care Crisis: Complementary and Alternative Medicine for PPACA'. DePaul College of Law DePaul Journal of Health Care Law, 14 (1), pp. 35-98.
  • Abbott RB, Hui KK, Hays RD, Mandel J, Goldstein M, Winegarden B, Glaser D, Brunton L. (2011) 'Medical student attitudes toward complementary, alternative and integrative medicine'. Hindawi Publishing Corporation Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2011 Article number 985243
  • Abbott R. (2009) 'The Beijing Declaration: A Landmark for Traditional Medicine'. International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development ICTSD-Bridges, 13 (1)
  • Abbott R, Zhang W. (2007) 'Meeting Report for the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine 2006 Annual Conference: Integration of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine - Research and Clinical Applications'. Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine, 13 (1), pp. 74-75.
  • Abbott RB, Hui KK, Hays RD, Li MD, Pan T. (2007) 'A randomized controlled trial of Tai Chi for tension headaches'. Hindawi Publishing Corporation Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 4 (1), pp. 107-113.

Book chapters

  • Abbott R , Lavretsky H, Chang D, Eyre H. (2018) 'Mind-Body Practices Tai Chi and Qigong in the Treatment and Prevention of Psychiatric Disorders'. in Gerbarg P, Muskin P, Brown R (eds.) Complementary and Integrative Treatments in Psychiatric Practice American Psychiatric Press
  • Abbott R. (2016) 'Hal the Inventor: Big Data and Its Use by Artificial Intelligence'. in Sugimoto CR, Ekbia HR, Mattioli M (eds.) Big Data is Not a Monolith MIT Press Article number 14 , pp. 187-198.
  • Abbott R. (2016) 'The Sentinel Initiative as a Cultural Commons'. in Strandburg K (ed.) Governing Medical Research Commons Cambridge University Press
    [ Status: In preparation ]

Reports

  • Abbott R, Bannenberg W. (2009) Regional Assessment of Patent and Related Issues and Access to Medicines: Caricom Member States and the Dominican Republic. in (ed.) Health Research for Action: Final Report: Country Studies HERA Article number Vol 2
  • Abbott F, Abbott R, Bannenberg W, Schürmann M. (2009) Regional Assessment of Patent and Related Issues and Access to Medicines: Caricom Member States and the Dominican Republic. in (ed.) Health Research for Action Final Report- Main Report HERA Article number Vol 1

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