AI Trends in Depth Stanford’s AI Index Report shows the state of AI in 2024

May 1, 2024
Reading time
2 min read
Results from Stanford's AI Index Report 2024

More expensive models, superhuman performance, growing impacts on society — an extensive report takes stock of developments in machine learning over the past year. 

What's new: Stanford’s Institute for Human-Centric AI published the seventh “AI Index Report,” its annual overview of the state of AI. The report documents rising costs and capabilities, a shift from academic to corporate dominance, and the public’s anxiety as the technology becomes ever more embedded in daily life.

Themes and findings: The 500-page report collates a wide variety of papers, benchmarks, market research, and surveys published in 2023. It delves deeply into AI technology, economics, governance, and impact. Among its key conclusions: 

  • Foundation models, defined as versatile models trained on very large datasets, ballooned in number and cost. The Index counted 149 foundation models released in 2023 (including Google’s Gemini Ultra, which cost $191.4 million to train). That’s up from 32 foundation models in 2022, 9 in 2021, and 2 in 2020 (when OpenAI’s GPT-3 175B cost an estimated $4.3 million to train).
  • Open foundation models, too, are on the rise: 66 percent of last year’s foundation models were open, up from 33 percent in 2021.
  • State-of-the-art models approached or surpassed human performance on several popular benchmarks. These include MMLU (multitask language understanding), VisIT-Bench (vision-language instructions), and MATH (difficult math problems). 
  • Industry was the primary driver of innovation, contributing 57 percent of “notable” machine learning models. Partnerships between industry and academia accounted for 23 percent and academia alone for 17 percent. Corporate dominance in model building was a significant shift from previous years; in 2016, academia and industry contributed AI models equally.
  • New models have achieved dramatic results in the sciences. For instance, AlphaDev found superior sorting algorithms. GraphCast generated mid-range weather forecasts more accurately than conventional methods. GNoME discovered new materials, and AlphaMissense pinpointed genetic mutations that cause human diseases.

Behind the news: The differences between the new one and the initial, 2018 edition highlight the field’s rapid pace of change. For instance, the 2018 report opened by trumpeting the nearly 9x growth of AI research papers published between 2000 and 2017. The new one opened not with the annual rate of research publications (though it has roughly doubled since 2017) but with a graph of industry’s growing dominance in innovation. The Batch has covered several editions. 

Why it matters: The “AI Index Report” offers a detailed snapshot of AI as it advances at an unprecedented rate and shows potential to revolutionize virtually every field of human endeavor. It dives deeply into areas of special concern to researchers (such as Gemini’s nearly $200 million training cost), practitioners (for instance, the slightly narrowing gender gap among computer science PhDs), businesses (the sharply rising number of regulations), and users (half of those who are aware of ChatGPT use it weekly). This year’s report includes new emphases on public opinion and geopolitics.

We're thinking: It’s heartening to see AI thriving. The field faces daunting challenges, yet the report highlights achievements in foundation models, science, medicine, and elsewhere that portend greater benefits directly ahead. What an exciting time for AI!


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