Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are forecast to add US$15 trillion to the global economy by 2030. According to the findings of our Index and as might be expected, the governments of countries in the Global North are better placed to take advantage of these gains than those in the Global South.
There is a risk, therefore, that countries in the Global South could be left behind by the so-called fourth industrial revolution. Not only will they not reap the potential benefits of AI, but there is also the danger that unequal implementation widens global inequalities.
AI has the power to transform the way that governments around the world deliver public services. In turn, this could greatly improve citizens’ experiences of government. Governments are already implementing AI in their operations and service delivery, to improve efficiency, save time and money, and deliver better quality public services.
In 2017, Oxford Insights created the world’s first Government AI Readiness Index, to answer the question: how well placed are national governments to
The 2019 Government AI Readiness Index, produced with the support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), sees
It scores the governments of 194 countries and territories according to their preparedness to use AI in the delivery of public services.
The overall score is comprised of 11 input metrics, grouped under four high-level clusters: governance; infrastructure and data; skills and education; and government and public services. The data is derived from a variety of resources, ranging from our own desk research into AI strategies, to databases such as the number of registered AI startups on Crunchbase, to indices such as the UN eGovernment Development Index.
They divided the countries by region, principally following UN groupings, with the chief exception of the Western European and Others Group, which separated to allow more in-depth analysis of higher scoring governments. For this edition of the Index, they invited regional experts to give commentary for each grouping, to supplement our quantitative findings with their insights and local knowledge.
As might be expected, the upper rankings of this year’s Government AI Readiness Index are dominated by countries with strong economies, good governance, and innovative private sectors.
Singapore comes first for AI readiness,
A surprising outcome is China’s relatively low position of 20th, even though central and local governments are already implementing AI in public service delivery. This is largely a result of missing data points, something we discuss in depth in our methodology annex paper.
The best performing region, on average, is North America, while the worst performing regions are Africa and the Asia-Pacific. The Index highlights the current inequality in AI readiness between global governments, with higher income countries predictably faring better in the rankings than middle and lower
Given that they are on the cusp of seeing widespread AI implementation across a number of sectors, including public services, this is a timely reminder of the ongoing inequality of access to AI.
Considering the disparities highlighted in this report, policymakers should act
Emerging technologies offer a unique opportunity to improve the governments of the future, and citizens’ experience of government. As we enter the age of automation, governments must ensure that they are ready to
Any action by governments, however, should be undertaken with great caution. If it is implemented without due care for ethics and safety, AI in public services could be at best ineffective, and at worst, very dangerous. The purpose of assessing and scoring governments’ AI readiness is not to create or fuel a global race for AI.
Rather, it is to help policymakers everywhere see where they are performing well, and in which areas they may wish to target their attention going forward.
The age of AI is coming, and intended contribution, through the Index, is to encourage all governments whether in the Global North or South to be as prepared as possible to help their citizens take advantage of the benefits of automation while protecting them from its associated risks.
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