A new report is ranking the U.S. first out of 160 nations in readiness to implement artificial intelligence (AI) in public services delivery to citizens.

This was the topline finding in the Government AI Readiness Index, a report by Oxford Insights to determine AI readiness through 42 indicators across 10 dimensions. This 2021 report is the fourth annual report of its kind, and draws on nine more indicators than were in the previous year’s report.

“Globally, governments are turning to AI to improve their public services and gain strategic economic advantages,” the report states. “But positioning themselves to make the most of this AI-powered transformation requires governments to have the right tools and operating environment; governments need to be AI-ready.”

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The U.S. tops global rankings in this index, due in large part to its sheer size and the maturity of its technology sector. Rounding out the top five, in order, are Singapore, the United Kingdom, Finland, and the Netherlands.

The U.S. scored highest among all nations in several indicators, including software and emerging technology investment. The U.S. also is among the roughly 40 percent of nations that have published or are going to publish national AI strategies, and thus as governments are becoming “increasingly aware of the opportunities and risks presented by AI.”

“We have found that 30 percent of the countries included in our rankings now have a national AI strategy and a further 9 percent have confirmed they are drafting one,” the report states. “This has been paired with government action to create a resilient environment for the use of AI in both the public and private sectors, marked by countries making advancements in cybersecurity and data protection legislation.”

In January 2021, the White House launched its National AI Initiative Office within the Office of Science and Technology Policy to advance AI research, development, and adoption. This office was established in part to oversee the implementation of a National AI Strategy.

Additionally, the report credits the significant growth of the private technology sector, and is “hopeful that governments will be able to harness these private sector advancements to improve their public service delivery, especially with new services based on AI technologies.”

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.