Singapore tops world list of cities most ready for AI disruption

Singapore is the most prepared for the next wave of technology disruption that will be brought about by artificial intelligence (AI), according to the inaugural ‘Global Cities AI Disruption Index’ compiled by New York-based researcher Oliver Wyman Forum.

The new index, published in September, ranked 105 cities worldwide on their AI readiness using 31 metrics across four broad categories: vision, activation ability, asset base and growth trajectory.

Singapore received the best overall score of 75.8. The other cities in the top 10 were London (75.6), New York (72.7), San Francisco (71.9), Paris (71.0), Stockholm (70.4), Amsterdam (68.6), Boston (68.5), Berlin (67.3) and Sydney (67.3).

Singapore’s ranking was bolstered by its strong performance in the vision category, which measures the presence of plans to respond to technology changes and plans to upgrade labour skills and infrastructure such as mobile networks.

“Singapore stands out for its vision; it has a whole-of-government view on how AI is to be deployed across the society and has a high-level steering committee for this,” said Jacob Hook, managing partner of management consultant Oliver Wyman. “It is one of the few governments in the world to have developed an AI governance framework to address ethical dilemmas.”

Singapore’s framework to promote the ethical use of AI was released at the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos in January. The government is also setting up an inter-agency task force to study how the city can grow its AI capabilities and become a trusted global hub for testing and deploying AI solutions.

Singapore also scored well in the asset base category, which assesses the amount of intellectual property, labour productivity, tech talent, venture capital investments and the education level of the population, among other things. Specifically, a total of $900 million has been allocated to research and development in AI, robotics and supercomputers under the National Research Foundation’s five-year fund, which will last until 2021.

After Singapore, the highest ranked cities in Asia were Seoul (16), Beijing (18) and Hong Kong (20). Chinese cities were pulled down by relatively lower scores in most categories but Shenzhen, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Hangzhou all scored the highest in the growth trajectory category. This measured how fast technology infrastructures evolve, city administration effectiveness and the size of venture capital investment.

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