How well are governments preparing for the AI revolution?
Thursday, January 04, 2018
Artificial intelligence (AI) is moving us forward in ways not yet even imagined, but some simple truths seem to be coming to light. First, AI is here to stay. Second, it will replace humans in some jobs and will likely impact the management of our facilities. Third, efforts for its development continue despite warnings that it could create a machine uprising.
And finally, when it comes to regulating this emerging technology, the Oxford Insights' Government AI Readiness Index shows that the United Kingdom ranks first globally, thanks to its "world-leading centers for AI research and strong technology industry."
Several other countries aren't far behind, according to this research. The study revealed that the United States, Canada, South Korea, the Netherlands, France, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Finland all are featured in the top 10 behind the leader.
The index was compiled by considering factors like how much investment there was in areas of public service reform, economy, skills and digital infrastructure. The study warns that if the UK wants to retain first place, it needs to continue to invest "to remain competitive in future years."
AI will revolutionize public service delivery. Governments around the world are starting to see its enormous potential for their economies, their societies and their own public services. Until now, most research has focused on the technical implementation and likely impacts of AI.
Oxford researchers detailed how the national governments in these counties can take advantage of the benefits of automation in their operations.
The Government AI Readiness Index provides an "overall estimate for how prepared each country's national government is for implementing AI in public service delivery. It comprises nine input metrics, ranging from in-country digital skills and government innovation to existing data capabilities. The Index highlights which countries have some way to go before they are ready for the AI revolution, and identifies possible areas of improvement for every ... government, regardless of ranking."
Per FM World magazine, the U.S. lags behind the UK on measures including "digital skills and data quality." The index offers some advice to help the U.S. to prepare better for the AI revolution: "Although the U.S. is likely to continue to do well because of tech clusters, such as Silicon Valley, without government focus and investment the digital skills gap will continue to grow. As a result, the U.S. will need to import more and more AI experts, potentially missing out on developing in-country talent."
Researchers said they also found that there is no clear geographical clustering in terms of AI readiness because the top five ranked countries are from North America, Europe and Asia.
"The expertise and conditions needed to capitalize on AI's potential are not area-specific, which suggests that many other governments are well-placed to begin climbing up the rankings. Estonia's e-government drive, for example, shows what may be possible with other smaller countries, and has helped it to perform well on grass-roots indicators of innovation, such as digital skills and AI startups."
E-Estonia is the most ambitious project in technological statecraft today, for it includes all members of the government and alters citizens' daily lives, The New Yorker reports. The normal services that government is involved with — legislation, voting, education, justice, healthcare, banking, taxes, policing and so on — have been digitally linked across one platform, wiring up the nation.
But the Government AI Readiness Index provides a timely insight into the capacity of governments to capitalize on the innovative potential of AI, and serves as a starting point for policymakers seeking focus areas in their drive for AI readiness.
"We believe that AI offers an unprecedented opportunity to transform the public services of the future," researchers said. "It is now up to governments to ensure that they are well placed to take best possible advantage of the AI revolution."
For facility managers, AI could be valuable, as machine and deep learning technologies are enabling computers to think for themselves. They still need algorithms supplied by humans, but they can use this data to construct their own responses to various stimuli.
With every new decision, they memorize the outcome and use it to inform the next one. One day, it's possible that the role of facility manager could become largely supervisory.
That said, AI is on the precipice of a new age — a new industrial revolution, if you will. It matters not which country controls the lead, as others will take ownership of the technology in the near future as it matures and takes foot.
That is, of course, if any of us humans are left to witness these events once the AI robots take over.
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