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THE AI INDEX REPORT

Measuring trends in Artificial Intelligence

ai iNDEX anNUAL rEPORT

Welcome to the
2021 AI Index Report

This year we significantly expanded the amount of data available in the report, worked with a broader set of external organizations to calibrate our data, and deepened our connections with Stanford HAI.

The 2021 report also shows the effects of COVID-19 on AI development from multiple perspectives. The Technical Performance chapter discusses how an AI startup used machine-learning-based techniques to accelerate COVID-related drug discovery during the pandemic, and our Economy chapter suggests that AI hiring and private investment were not significantly adversely influenced by the pandemic, as both grew during 2020. If anything, COVID-19 may have led to a higher number of people participating in AI research conferences, as the pandemic forced conferences to shift to virtual formats, which in turn led to significant spikes in attendance.

TOP 9 TAKEAWAYS

1 AI investment in drug design and discovery increased significantly

“Drugs, Cancer, Molecular, Drug Discovery” received the greatest amount of private AI investment in 2020, with more than USD 13.8 billion, 4.5 times higher than 2019.

2 The industry shift continues

In 2019, 65% of graduating North American PhDs in AI went into industry—up from 44.4% in 2010, highlighting the greater role industry has begun to play in AI development.

3 Generative everything

AI systems can now compose text, audio, and images to a sufficiently high standard that humans have a hard time telling the difference between synthetic and non-synthetic outputs for some constrained applications of the technology.

4 AI has a diversity challenge

In 2019, 45% new U.S. resident AI PhD graduates were white—by comparison, 2.4% were African American and 3.2% were Hispanic.

5 China overtakes the US in AI journal citations

After surpassing the US in the total number of journal publications several years ago, China now also leads in journal citations; however, the US has consistently (and significantly) more AI conference papers (which are also more heavily cited) than China over the last decade.

6 The majority of the US AI PhD grads are from abroad—and they’re staying in the US

The percentage of international students among new AI PhDs in North America continued to rise in 2019, to 64.3%—a 4.3% increase from 2018. Among foreign graduates, 81.8% stayed in the United States and 8.6% have taken jobs outside the United States.

7 Surveillance technologies are fast, cheap, and increasingly ubiquitous

The technologies necessary for large-scale surveillance are rapidly maturing, with techniques for image classification, face recognition, video analysis, and voice identification all seeing significant progress in 2020.

8 AI ethics lacks benchmarks and consensus

Though a number of groups are producing a range of qualitative or normative outputs in the AI ethics domain, the field generally lacks benchmarks that can be used to measure or assess the relationship between broader societal discussions about technology development and the development of the technology itself. Furthermore, researchers and civil society view AI ethics as more important than industrial organizations.

9 AI has gained the attention of the U.S. Congress

The 116th Congress is the most AI-focused congressional session in history with the number of mentions of AI in congressional record more than triple that of the 115th Congress.

CHAPTERS

PAST REPORTS

2019 annual report
2018 annual report
2017 annual report
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