US Leads World in AI Preparedness; China, Russia, Iran Lag Behind, IMF Report Says

A new report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has assessed countries’ readiness to embrace artificial intelligence (AI) in their economies, emphasizing the need for policymakers to ensure that this transformative technology benefits everyone.

“In most scenarios, AI is likely to exacerbate overall inequality, a concerning trend that policymakers can work to mitigate,” the IMF stated in a blog post accompanying its data. “This dashboard is a response to the considerable interest from our stakeholders in accessing the index.”

The index evaluates a country’s AI preparedness across four key areas: digital infrastructure, human capital and labor market policies, innovation and economic integration, and regulation.

The index categorizes countries into five tiers with a rating ranging from 0 to 1, with a higher score signifying greater AI preparedness. The index has rated 174 countries.

Based on these ratings, the U.S. and the Netherlands lead the rankings with an AI preparedness score of 0.77. Other highly-rated countries include Finland and Estonia with 0.76, New Zealand, Germany, and Sweden with 0.75, and Australia, Japan, and Israel with 0.73.

Taiwan, a leading semiconductor manufacturer, surprisingly received a score of 0.67 despite its technological prowess.

Western rivals received lower scores, with China at 0.64, Russia at 0.56, Iran at 0.38, and Venezuela at 0.27.

India, a rapidly growing industrial powerhouse, has a score of 0.49.

At the bottom of the rankings, the least prepared countries for AI adoption include South Sudan with 0.11, Afghanistan with 0.13, the Central African Republic (CAR) with 0.18, and Somalia with 0.2. All other nations received scores of 0.25 or higher.

For countries like Afghanistan, the IMF acknowledges data limitations regarding its economy, potentially impacting some index scores. Countries such as North Korea, Yemen, Eritrea, and Turkmenistan were not included in the map due to a lack of available data.

The IMF cautioned that data collection and synthesis proved “challenging,” highlighting the uncertainties surrounding institutional requirements for integrating AI across economies.

“As the dashboard indicates, countries are at varying levels of readiness to harness the potential benefits of AI while managing its risks,” the IMF wrote.

“For instance, in advanced economies, approximately 30% of jobs could be enhanced through AI integration,” the IMF explained. “Workers who can leverage this technology may experience wage increases or improved productivity, while those who cannot may fall behind.”

“Younger workers may find it easier to seize opportunities, while older workers might struggle to adapt,” it added.

Previous IMF analysis indicated that AI will transform roughly 40% of global employment, echoing historical patterns of technological disruption. However, AI presents a unique challenge as it will also impact high-skilled jobs. In more advanced economies, up to 60% of jobs could be affected.

With its new analysis, the IMF suggests that countries with more developed economies should focus on expanding social safety nets, investing in worker training, and prioritizing AI innovation and integration.

“Through global collaboration, these countries should also strengthen regulations to protect individuals from potential risks and abuses, fostering trust in AI,” the IMF stated. “For emerging market and developing economies, the policy priority should be to establish a solid foundation by investing in digital infrastructure and digital training for workers.”