New Index Ranks Robot, AI and Automation Readiness for 25 Countries

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April 23, 2018      

South Korea, Germany, and Singapore are the world’s top nations in preparing their economies for robotics and artificial intelligence. Those nations’ “automation readiness” was ranked in a report launched today by The Economist and robotics manufacturer ABB.

The report, “The Automation Readiness Index: Who Is Ready for the Coming Wave of Innovation?” is based on a newly created index by The Economist Intelligence Unit, as well as interviews with subject matter experts around the world, ABB said in a press release announcing the report. Rankings of 25 countries were determined based on 52 different indicators, including categories such as education policies, labor market policies and innovation environments.

Rounding out the top 10 countries were Japan, Canada, Estonia, France, the U.K., the U.S., and Australia. China, which is often thought of as a leader in the AI and robotics space, ranked No. 12 on the list. At the bottom of the list were Mexico, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

Automation Readiness Index ABB Economist

Credit: ABB and The Economist Intelligence Unit.

The report recommends that even for countries at the top of the list, they still “must develop even more effective education policies and training programs, as well as place a new emphasis on continual learning over the course of a career.”

In addition, the report said, governmental policies and programs must “ensure that the rapid adoption of automation technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) don’t leave people unprepared for the new, more human-oriented jobs that will be needed as robots and algorithms take on more of the routine task that can be and will be automated.”

At the moment, government policy responses around intelligent automation is lacking around the world, the report stated.

“The lack of engagement between policymakers, industry, educational specialists and other stakeholders that must inform this action is therefore alarming,” the report said. Even in the top-ranked countries, policy response is nascent, it added.

Wealthier countries benefit, but not always

At the top of the rankings, countries are spending considerably on AI and robotics research, although where that money is spent varies on each country.

For example, the report said Japan and South Korea spend hundreds of millions of dollars towards public- and private-sector organizations. In Germany, much of the spending goes to the manufacturing sector, Internet of Things research, and data analytics.

The report also cited a large gap separating high-income countries with those from middle- and lower-income brackets. But lower-income countries that have agriculture-based economies are “less exposed than middle-income countries with large manufacturing bases,” the report concluded. Weaknesses in basic skills education would likely hamper countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia.

ABB and The Economist Intelligence Unit said they will conduct the research annually and revise the rankings as needed, “to fulfill its purpose as a tool to help governments continually identify and pursue policies that support successful participation in the highly automated, intensively digitalized global economy.”

ABB said it also is creating “digital workplace” environments that will train employees to use digital and automation tools.

For more details on the automation readiness index and report, go here.