Top 10 Takeaways from Stanford’s AI Index

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Stanford's state of AI

AI has had more influence on the tech landscape in the past 6 months than in the last 20 years. The technology has taken the tech word by storm since the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT last Novemebr, gripping Silicon Valley in an AI arms that shows no sign of slowing anytime soon. 

Microsoft has already invested over $11 billion into OpenAI in the last three months and is looking to implement a version of the technology into its Bing Search Engine and Office apps, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. Google, which has been quietly developing its own AI projects for years, has meanwhile issued a “code red”, moving huge amounts of resources into the research and development of AI software. 

As Big Tech struggles for control on the AI market, monitoring the state of the technology can be challenging due to the rapid pace of its development. Still, understanding the trends and challenges that are shaping the complex and fast-moving domain is important to understand where the technology is heading. 

Stanford’s 386-page AI index, released last week by the Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, delves deep into the current state of AI, summarising some of the greatest challenges and notable breakthroughs defining the future of AI development. It borrows expertise from experts from academia and private industry to collect information and predictions on the matter, using surveys to allow the world to finger on the pulse of AI development. 

In this list, we’ve compiled 10 of the top takeaways from Stanford’s findings, revealing how AI is transforming the enterprise landscape and society as a whole.

China is most the positive about AI 

According to a 2022 IPSOS survey, Chinese citizens expressed significantly positive attitudes towards AI products and services. A staggering 78% of Chinese respondents agreed that these technologies have more benefits than drawbacks, making them among the most optimistic about AI among the surveyed countries. Saudi Arabians and Indians closely followed with 76% and 71% agreement, respectively. In contrast, only 35% of Americans surveyed believed that products and services utilizing AI had more advantages than disadvantages, which was one of the lowest proportions among the countries surveyed.


The varying perceptions of AI among different countries highlight the cultural and societal factors that influence public opinion. Chinese citizens, in particular, exhibited a high level of optimism towards AI, perceiving its potential benefits. Conversely, Americans expressed a more cautious view, with a smaller proportion believing that AI has more advantages than disadvantages. Understanding public attitudes towards AI is crucial for policymakers and organizations to shape policies, regulations, and strategies that foster responsible and ethical development and deployment of AI technologies. It also underscores the need for further education and awareness efforts to promote a balanced understanding of AI and its implications across different populations.

There has been a growing interest among policymakers in AI

Interest in artificial intelligence (AI) among policymakers has been steadily increasing, as indicated by an analysis conducted by the AI Index. The legislative records of 127 countries revealed a significant rise in the number of bills containing the term "artificial intelligence" that has been passed into law, from just one in 2016 to 37 in 2022. Furthermore, mentions of AI in global legislative proceedings have surged nearly 6.5 times since 2016, based on parliamentary records from 81 countries.


This growing interest in AI among policymakers reflects the increasing recognition of the significance and potential impact of AI on various aspects of society, including ethics, governance, privacy, and security. Policymakers are grappling with the complex challenges posed by AI, such as regulation, transparency, and accountability, as well as exploring opportunities to harness AI for economic growth and societal benefits. The increased legislative focus on AI underscores the need for robust and adaptive policy frameworks that strike a balance between fostering innovation and ensuring the responsible and ethical use of AI. Policymakers are actively engaged in shaping the legal and regulatory landscape around AI, with the aim of harnessing its potential while addressing its risks and challenges.

Those that have implemented AI technology continue to outperform those that have not 

Stanford highlights that organisations that have embraced AI technology continue to outperform those that have not. As per McKinsey's annual research survey, the adoption of AI has seen significant growth, with the percentage of companies implementing AI more than doubling from 2017 to 2022. However, the adoption rate has stabilised in recent years, hovering between 50% and 60%. Despite this plateau, companies that have integrated AI into their operations report notable benefits, including substantial cost reductions and increased revenue.


The implementation of AI has proven to be a strategic advantage for businesses, enabling them to optimize processes, enhance decision-making, and drive innovation. Companies leveraging AI-powered tools and technologies are gaining a competitive edge by automating tasks, analyzing data at scale, and unlocking insights that lead to improved operational efficiencies and higher revenues. As the business landscape continues to evolve, organizations that have not yet embraced AI may risk falling behind their competitors. The proven benefits of AI adoption, including cost reductions and revenue increases, emphasize the significance of leveraging AI technologies to drive business success in today's data-driven world.

Private investment in AI decreased for the first time in the last decade

For the first time in a decade, private investment in artificial intelligence (AI) has experienced a decline. In 2022, global private investment in AI amounted to $91.9 billion, marking a significant drop of 26.7% compared to 2021. The report also noted that the number of funding events and newly funded AI companies has also declined. Regardless, it's worth noting that private investment in AI has seen substantial growth over the past ten years. In fact, the amount of private investment in AI in 2022 was a staggering 18 times higher than it was in 2013.


This decline in private investment in AI could be attributed to various factors, such as economic fluctuations, market uncertainties, or shifting investor preferences. Nevertheless, the overall trend of increasing private investment in AI over the past decade highlights the continued interest and potential of AI technologies in various industries. It will be crucial to closely monitor and understand the factors influencing private investment in AI to navigate the evolving landscape of AI funding and ensure its continued growth in the future.

The demand for professionals with AI-related skills is on the rise 

The demand for skilled professionals in AI is skyrocketing across various industrial sectors in the United States. In fact, based on available data (excluding agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting), AI-related job postings saw a notable increase from an average of 1.7% in 2021 to 1.9% in 2022 in every sector. Stanford notes that this trend highlights the growing need for workers with specialiSed AI skills to meet the surging demand from employers.


With AI rapidly transforming industries and driving innovation, employers in the United States are actively seeking individuals with expertise in AI. These professionals are crucial for developing and implementing AI technologies, analyzing data, creating algorithms, and designing machine learning models to enhance business processes and decision-making. As the demand for AI-related skills continues to rise, it underscores the importance of staying up-to-date with the latest advancements in the field and acquiring the necessary expertise to capitalise on the opportunities presented by the AI revolution.

Incidents involving the ethical misuse of AI are rising 

The misuse of AI for unethical purposes has become a significant concern for AI researchers as the number of incidents continues to escalate at an alarming pace. The AIAAIC database, responsible for documenting incidents associated with the ethical misuse of AI, reported a staggering 26-fold increase in AI-related controversies since 2012. Numerous incidents occurred in 2022, such as the fabrication of a deep-fake video featuring the Ukrainian President surrendering and the utilisation of call-monitoring technology on inmates in U.S. correctional facilities. Stanford’s report said that this surge in unethical AI misconduct is a consequence of the expanding employment of AI technologies and an enhanced recognition of the risks associated with their misuse.


The exponential increase in AI-related controversies demonstrates the pressing need to develop and enforce ethical standards to mitigate potential harm. It is imperative that AI systems are designed to prioritize ethical principles, such as transparency, accountability, and fairness. As AI technology continues to advance, addressing these ethical concerns will be critical to ensure that AI serves the common good and does not cause undue harm.

AI models are accelerating scientific progress 

The report notes that AI's impact on scientific progress has been significant in recent years, with a growing number of breakthroughs demonstrating the technology's potential. By leveraging advanced machine learning algorithms, scientists are able to analyze large amounts of data and identify patterns that would be impossible to detect through traditional methods. This has led to a number of important advancements in fields ranging from healthcare to energy.


Stanford cites hydrogen fusion as one of the most notable being revolutionised by AI. Tthe process is incredibly complex and requires precise control over extremely high temperatures and pressures. By using AI to analyze data from experiments, scientists have been able to improve the efficiency of the fusion process and move closer to realizing the technology's potential. AI has also proven useful in improving the efficiency of matrix manipulation, a key tool used in a wide range of scientific fields, and is making transforming the way scientists develop new antibodies. By using advanced algorithms to analyze large datasets, scientists can identify promising candidates for new drugs and therapies. This has the potential to revolutionise healthcare, allowing for more targeted treatments and better outcomes for patients.

AI systems can have severe environmental impacts

According to the report, recent studies suggest AI systems can have significant environmental impacts, contradicting the common belief that AI development is critical for a sustainable future. For instance, according to Luccioni et al., the AI model BLOOM emits emissions 25 times greater than a one-way flight from New York to San Francisco on a single training run.


Though the development of AI can increase carbon emissions, however, the report notes that there are promising developments that may help mitigate the technology’s impact on the environment. New reinforcement learning models like BCOOLER, which optimises energy usage and mitigates environmental damage by reducing energy consumption in data centres. While there is a need for more research and development to ensure that AI is eco-friendly, these new models offer a glimmer of hope that AI can be developed sustainably. 

Improvements to AI have been marginal despite innovation

Despite the continued advancements in AI technology, Stanford notes that year-over-year progress on many traditional benchmarks has been extremely limited. This is further exacerbated by the increasing rate of benchmark saturation. However, the emergence of new and more comprehensive benchmarking suites like BIG-bench and HELM could have the potential to spark significant improvements in  AI performance and could potentially pave the way for a new era of innovation in the field. 


With the help of these new benchmarks, researchers can test AI models on a broader range of tasks and scenarios, leading to a more robust and versatile technology. Therefore, the report notes that while the rate of progress may have been slow in some areas, the introduction of these new benchmarking suites signals a bright future for AI development.

AI is approaching an era of corporate control  

One of the most notable findings from Standford’s Index was the significant shift from academia to Industry when it comes to the development of AI and machine learning models. Before 2014, most of the noteworthy machine learning models were created by academia. However, since then, the industry has taken over the reins. In 2022, there were 32 significant machine learning models produced by industry, while academia only produced three.


To build cutting-edge AI systems, a vast amount of resources such as data, computing power, and financial investment are required. These resources are more readily available to industry players than to nonprofits and academia, making it easier for them to develop state-of-the-art AI systems. As a result, the machine learning field has become increasingly dominated by industry, with academia and nonprofits falling behind due to a lack of resources and funding for development. This shift has significant implications for the future of AI, as industry priorities and goals may differ from those of academia and nonprofits, and may not always align with societal needs and ethical considerations.