UK ranks fourth in Global AI index

The UK has been ranked fourth in the Global AI Index created by UK news company Tortoise. 

The Index ranks 62 countries using 111 indicators to create a score for AI scale and intensity. These indicators are underpinned by three pillars of analysis: investment, innovation and implementation. The pillars are then subdivided into seven categories: government strategy, commercial, innovation, research and development, implementation, talent, infrastructure and operating environment. 

With a score of 42, the UK has dropped from third place; a position the country has held since the index began in 2019. The index highlights that while the UK has plenty of AI talent, research and commercial outreach, they still lack the systems and infrastructure required for an AI leader. 

The US cinched first place in the overall rankings with a perfect score of 100, while China remained in second place scoring 62. Singapore has rocketed through the rankings coming third with a score of 50 this year, up from 6th place in 2021. 

The US claimed the top spot in the rankings for all three pillars and led China’s overall score by 38 points, indicating a clear dominance in the field of AI. The UK, on the other hand, is clinging to 4th place with the next five ranked countries all four points or fewer below them.


Held back by implementation 

While the UK ranked at least tenth in all areas of the investment and innovation pillars, scores in the implementation category were less impressive. In infrastructure the UK ranked 24th out of 62 and in operating environment just 40th.

However, in talent, research and commercial, they scored consistently highly, ranking fifth  in all three areas. UK government strategy came in at a solid tenth place, one place higher than in 2022.

It was Saudi Arabia who took the top spot by the government strategy metric, followed by Germany in second and China in third. The US ranked just eighth. The UK trailed a number of European countries including Spain (fourth), Russia (seventh) and Italy (ninth) in this category - although it did rank higher than France in thirteenth place.  

This comes as the UK government has sought to respond to the fast development of AI through regulation and improving capability. 

On the regulation side, the Office for Artificial Intelligence launched a pro-innovation whitepaper on regulating AI in March which is currently seeking consultation responses and in June the government announced it would invest £54 million into trusted AI research.

The Local Government Association has also announced a National AI strategy to inform local authorities on safely developing AI for use. On the the capabilities side, in April the Prime Minister and Technology Secretary announced an initial £100 million for a task force to develop better AI capabilities.

Additionally, in July, the Cabinet Office announced a scheme to parachute AI specialists from the private sector into secondment roles in the Civil Service to further drive innovation and understanding. 

Overall the UK’s score of 34.6 in scale versus the higher 52.8 in intensity indicates that the country is saturated with people skilled in using AI but currently lacks the resources to successfully lead in the sector. 


A regional leader 

Despite some weaknesses, the UK has been ranked highest in Europe by the Index with the next best countries in the region being Germany, Switzerland and Finland, sitting in eighth, ninth and tenth place respectively. 

This strength corresponds with the UK’s increase in annual global investment in AI from 3.5% in 2021 to 5.6% in 2022. In comparison, the whole EU bloc constituted a 9.3% share of yearly global investment in AI in 2022. 

Europe is a leading region in AI with the lowest scoring country on seventeen, Slovakia, scoring the same as Egypt, the leading African country for AI. This score is also significantly higher than the lowest scoring countries overall Kenya, Nigeria and Pakistan with scores of just eight, nine and ten.

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