No city in the world is ready for the disruptions that will be brought on by the Age of AI. Significant improvements must be made by governments and private sector institutions to fully prepare for the challenges that lie ahead. This, according to a global study conducted by the Oliver Wyman Forum, which ranked 105 international cities in terms of their preparedness for the broad technological and digital disruption that will be spurred by AI and related technologies.
Asian cities are displaying the greatest momentum in preparing for both the opportunities and the negative ramifications of AI. Fourteen of the top 20 cities making the greatest strides in terms of aligning with what’s required for success in an age of AI are Asian. Eight of these are in China, including Shenzhen, Beijing, and Guangzhou.
The index ranks cities on four key criteria: the quality of a city’s plan (Vision); a city’s ability to execute on forward-looking plans (Activation); the extent and quality of talent, education, and infrastructure (Asset Base); and how the interplay of Activation and Asset Base are impacting its overall momentum (Trajectory).
Globally, Singapore shows the most readiness overall, with an average score of 75.8 out of 100 across the four criteria. London (75.6), New York (72.7), San Francisco (71.9), Paris (71.0), Stockholm (70.4), Amsterdam (68.6), Boston (68.5), Berlin (67.3), and Sydney (67.3) round out the top 10.
But no city is close to being fully prepared. None ranks among the top 20 across all four categories, and none appears in the top 10 across even three.
“Most cities plan to use AI to become ‘smart cities’ or the next Silicon Valley, but few focus on the bigger, strategic social and economic opportunities and challenges, such as the need to retrain people who may be forced to look for new work as a result of the broad deployment of AI,” said Timocin Pervane, co-leader of the Oliver Wyman Forum’s City Readiness initiative.
Added Kaijia Gu, co-leader of the Oliver Wyman Forum’s City Readiness initiative: “Some cities, like Singapore, are better prepared than others, but all cities will need to make improvements to prepare for the impacts of next-generation technology. City officials will need to work closer than ever before with local employers and educational institutions to tackle this challenge.”
Besides ranking cities on their overall readiness, the index also ranks based on size, from megacities to smaller ones. While big cities often have vast resources, smaller ones are nimbler and can rise to new challenges more quickly.
“Proactive smaller cities can be just as well positioned for an age of AI because they are more agile,” said Pervane.
Other key findings:
- London tops the list of cities with populations of more than 10 million people; Singapore leads cities globally with populations between 5 million to 10 million; San Francisco is the most prepared city with a population of between 3 to 5 million; Stockholm is No. 1 for cities with populations between 1 million and 3 million.
- Megacities such as London, New York, and Paris are not the only ones with the rare trio of top talent, top employers, and top educational institutions that can help to succeed in an age of AI. Five of the top 15 cities with these strengths have fewer than 5 million people, including San Francisco, Boston, Stockholm, San Jose, and Sydney.
- Many of the world’s smallest municipalities scored well because they are the most proactive in anticipating risks and looking for opportunities. Half of the top 10 cities – San Francisco, Boston, Amsterdam, Stockholm, and Sydney – have fewer than 5 million residents.
- European cities have an advantage in terms of their ability to implement plans. Twelve of the top 20 cities with forward-looking plans are European, including Stockholm, Munich, Dublin, Hamburg, and Zurich.
Job Loss Top Concern Globally
To complement the Oliver Wyman Forum Index, the Forum surveyed more than 9,000 people in 21 cities about how they think technological changes will impact their cities. Job loss was their top concern. Globally, 45 percent of respondents said automation could eliminate their jobs over the next decade and 42 percent are not confident in their government’s vision for technological change. More than half of respondents in Asian cities considered their jobs to be most at risk, compared to 44 percent in Europe, and just 34 percent in North America.