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New report details growing global interest in artificial intelligence

By nearly every measure, interest in the development of artificial intelligence has exploded in the past decade, drawing a flurry of research activity and investment across the globe.

That’s what a group of researchers found in the 2018 edition of the AI Index, an annual report by top researchers in the AI field that tracks, collates, distills, and visualizes data relating to the technology’s progress. The report, the group’s second, was released this month. MIT Sloan economist Erik Brynjolfsson is a member of the team.

This year’s report saw a broadening of the researchers’ perspective to include a focus on global trends in AI. “There is no AI story without global perspective. The 2017 report was heavily skewed towards North American activities. …This year, we begin to close the global gap,” the report read.

The data underlying the findings has also been published alongside the report.

The report shows:

  • Research into AI has drastically increased around the world. Europe and China saw the highest output of AI-related research. Work in China in particular has increased by 150 percent over the past decade.
  • Research in China tends to focus on engineering and technology, while researchers in the U.S. and Europe are focusing more heavily on humanities and medical science.
  • Machine learning remains the most common focus for researchers, followed by neural networks and computer vision.
  • Enrollment in AI courses at leading universities continues to rise, with enrollment in introductory AI courses at major U.S. universities 3.4 times higher than in 2012 and five times higher for introductory machine learning courses during the same time frame. In China, enrollment in AI courses at Tsinghua University was 16 times higher in 2017 than it was in 2010.
  • Investment in AI startups doubled between January 2015 and January 2018, with venture capital funding quadrupling since 2013.
  • Job openings requiring deep learning skills grew by a factor of 35 between 2015 and 2017.
  • AI systems continue to make gains in image recognition, language translation, object recognition, and other activities.