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Excerpts from the fifth annual AI Index from Stanford University’s Institute for Human-Centered AI

A new study showcases AI’s growing importance worldwide.

What’s new: The fifth annual AI Index from Stanford University’s Institute for Human-Centered AI documents rises in funding, regulation, and performance.

What it says: The authors based their report on academic and conference publications as well as public datasets.

  • Private investment in AI more than doubled from $42.2 billion in 2020 to $93.5 billion in 2021. The bulk of the money — $76.5 billion — came from China, the European Union, and the United States. It reached fewer recipients than in previous years: The number of new AI companies dropped from over 4,000 in 2017 to less than 750 in 2021.
  • Regulation is on the rise. Fifty-five AI-related laws have been enacted by 25 key countries since 2015. Eighteen were passed in 2021.
  • Despite simmering geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and China, in 2021, more than 9,000 publications came from teams that included members in both countries, a fivefold increase since 2010.
  • Training times and costs are falling for a wide range of tasks including image classification, object detection, and language processing. Image classification models were 63.3 percent less costly and 94.4 percent faster to train in 2021 than 2018.
  • Conferences focused on AI ethics received five times as many paper submissions in 2021 as they did in 2014. The percentage of ethics papers submitted by private-sector researchers during that period rose by 71 percent, reflecting mainstream adoption of ethical concerns.

Behind the news: Previous editions of the AI Index highlighted important inflection points in the industry’s growth.

  • In 2021, the report highlighted the growing share of newly-minted doctoral degrees in AI. Foreign students made up a growing majority of U.S. PhDs, and China surpassed the U.S. in journal citations. It also highlighted the rapid adoption of AI-driven surveillance.
  • The 2020 report recognized the U.S. and China as unquestioned global leaders in AI research and projected that China would eclipse other nations.

Why it matters: The boom in private investment and spike in laws that regulate automation signal the same fundamental trend: AI is increasingly central to the forces that drive society.

We’re thinking: We can confirm a further trend: the rising volume of reports on AI trends!


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