Report: U.S. Tops Government AI Readiness Index

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The annual index ranks countries based on 42 indicators.

The U.S. federal government is the most prepared among 160 nations to use artificial intelligence in the public services they provide, according to a report released this week by London-based consultancy Oxford Insights.

The annual report, called the 2021 Government AI Readiness Index, rates countries based on 42 indicators—including software spending and industry investment in emerging technologies—across three pillars: government, technology sector, and data and infrastructure.

Buoyed by the unrivaled maturity of its technology sector, the U.S. topped the rankings, followed by Singapore, which topped the government pillar due to its digital capacity. The United Kingdom, Finland and the Netherlands finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

“Governments stand to gain from the vast applications of recent developments in AI,” said Richard Stirling, CEO and co-founder of Oxford Insights. “Those governments who take a strategic approach to harnessing AI within government and promoting their national AI sector are likely to see the greatest benefits. Our 2021 AI Readiness Index results demonstrate a growing understanding of this amongst governments.”

According to the report, the U.S. scored the highest among all nations in several indicators, including investment in software and emerging technologies. The U.S. is also home to numerous major tech firms, which equates to the largest collection of potential AI suppliers of any country. Further, the report states AI technologies are “being commercialized and adopted across the economy,” a key barometer for government AI readiness.

“This is important for government AI readiness. It indicates that: the pool of suppliers will have genuinely useful tools for government, and the country’s workforce will be developing the skills required for the use of AI, which is likely to spillover into the government’s internal capacity,” the report states.

According to the report, the U.S. is among 40% of nations that have either published or are in the process of publishing national AI strategies. The U.S. has published and updated its own AI strategy, and several federal agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services, have published their own AI strategies.