AI Index 2018: How AI Is Transforming Industries Worldwide

The 2018 AI Index report (December 2018) highlighted the countless ways AI is being researched, adopted and advanced not just in the U.S. but also around the world.

The report revealed a few key insights into the current state of AI, including:

  • The number AI startups increased 2.1x between 2013 and 2017.
  • Venture capitalist funding for AI startups increased 4.5x between 2014 and 2017.
  • Job openings requiring machine learning skills have increased significantly, although those requiring deep learning skills show the fastest growth rate by far.
  • While the U.S. currently holds the most AI patents, Taiwan and Korea are creating patents at the fastest rate.
  • In every region surveyed, at least 20 percent of respondents report adoption of at least one AI capability within their company.
  • The telecom industry has a higher percentage of AI adoption than that of any other industry.

These results not only paint a clearer picture of the current AI landscape, but also offer a glimpse into the future of AI. Although AI has yet to become the norm, it is on its way.

Here, we’ll take a closer look at the report’s findings on AI’s impact on industries around the globe, from its role in job creation to its impact on company earnings.

AI Startups Skyrocket

It’s only a matter of time until AI goes mainstream, and U.S. investors know it.

Between January 2015 and January 2018, the number of active AI startups rose 2.1x, while the number of all active start-ups rose 1.3x.

This exponential increase in AI startups has been largely fueled by venture capitalists, whose funding of AI startups increased 4.5x between 2013 and 2017. By contrast, funding for all startups rose 2.08x.

To put this financial boom in terms of numbers, consider that according to CB Insights, AI startup funding reached $15 billion in 2017, a 141 percent increase from 2016.

AI-Driven Job Creation

Although some fear that AI will negatively impact human employment, the opposite is true when it comes to creating and managing AI technology.

The number of job openings requiring deep learning- and natural language processing (NLP)-related skills rose the most.

In terms of growth, deep learning-related job openings were head and shoulders above the rest with a 35x growth rate.

In fact, AI will likely create more jobs than it eliminates: According to Gartner, AI will create 2.3 million jobs in 2020 while eliminating 1.8 million.

With regard to gender, 71 percent of all AI job applicants are male, with women making up just 29 percent of applicants. Interestingly, females apply to deep learning-related positions the most, which represent the fastest-growing area of AI as mentioned above.

As AI education becomes more widespread, affordable and accessible, however, it’s possible that the percentage of female applicants will increase, especially with the help of organizations like Women in AI.

AI Patent Creation Shows Worldwide Growth

AI technologies are being invented and patented at an extraordinary rate, not only in the U.S. but also on a global scale.

Between 2004 and 2014, the U.S. filed the most patents by far (approximately 125,000), followed by Korea and Japan (over 60,000).

However, when we look at the data in terms of growth, Korea and Taiwan come out on top, with China taking third place.

Chinese tech giant Baidu alone has filed more than 2,000 AI patents, according to the Patent Protection Association of China.

AI Adoption Rates Rise Across Regions and Industries

However, AI adoption rates don’t mirror that regional disparity in patent creation: AI capabilities are being adopted at approximately similar rates worldwide. In every region surveyed, at least 20 percent of respondents report adoption of at least one function within their company.

Companies in North America, Europe, India and Latin America, adopt robotic process automation most, tied with machine learning in North America and computer vision in Latin America.

On the other hand, companies in the Asia Pacific region, the Middle East and North Africa and developing markets including China prioritize computer vision.

When analyzed by industry and function, it became clear the different industries adopt AI where it will be most valuable. For example, the retail industry uses AI primarily in marketing and sales, the pharmaceutical industry uses it primarily in manufacturing and the financial services industry uses it primarily in risk.

These findings also revealed that the telecom industry has the highest adoption percentage, with 75 percent of respondents reporting adoption of AI in service operations functions.

AI is permanently changing the ways in which all industries operate, regardless of borders or even continents. Moving forward, companies and regions that embrace AI will likely see benefits in terms of both economic gains and industry performance.

In 2019, those who ignore AI’s power and influence risk being left behind.

Interested in accessing the full 2018 AI Index report? Download it here for free.