Salesforce has released the 2023 Asia Pacific AI Readiness Index, which has Singapore holding the top spot for overall AI readiness (70.1), ahead of 11 other economies.
Of the 12 countries surveyed, five (Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Thailand) have seen their overall AI readiness improve from their 2021 score, a direct reflection of the AI-related initiatives these economies have launched between 2021 and 2023. Other APAC economies have also seen progress:
Singapore leads the Index and has launched many decisive AI-related initiatives, with an aim to empower public and private-sector organisations to adopt AI responsibly.
Indonesia and Thailand have the largest increase in government AI readiness, a testament to the momentum since the introduction of their national AI strategies in 2021 and 2022 respectively.
Japan and China, second and third on the list, have a strong focus on AI innovation.
New Zealand is leading in digital government and open government data, which refers to the free and open publication of government data.
Australia is among the top scorers in government AI readiness, reflecting its sustained momentum to build on its rich open data sources.
South Korea leads in terms of creative outputs, which include intangible assets.
India leads in terms of number of AI start-ups.
Overall AI readiness
Singapore leads the APAC region (70.1), followed by Japan (59.8), and China (59.7).
Singapore has launched many decisive AI-related initiatives, with an aim to empower public and private-sector organisations to adopt AI in a responsible manner: the National AI Program in Government, the National AI Program in Finance, the AI in Healthcare Guidelines, and AI Verify.
For instance, the National AI Strategy outlines plans to develop and deploy AI solutions across several key sectors of society. The AI Verify Foundation, of which Salesforce is a pioneering premier member, aims to promote the responsible use of AI by developing AI testing frameworks and best practices.
Government AI readiness
Singapore leads the APAC region (86.5), followed by Australia (77.7) and Japan (77.5).
Across the spectrum, Singapore leads in digital transformation of the public sector, open government data, human capital and research, ICT regulation, and government promotion of investment in emerging technologies.
Australia is also among the top scorers, reflecting its sustained momentum to build on its rich open data sources and to engage beyond the public sector through initiatives such as the Aus Government Data Summit.
New Zealand is leading in digital government and open government data. This can be attributed to the Open Data Action Plan rolled out in 2021, which seeks to enable open data and accelerate the release and reuse of open government data.
Business AI readiness
Singapore leads the APAC region (53.6), followed by China, (43.1), and South Korea (42.7).
Singapore is ahead of other countries in terms of businesses’ adoption of emerging technologies and business sophistication. Singapore also leads in terms of venture capital availability and valuation, a major factor behind the dynamism—and longevity—of AI start-ups. China leads the way in terms of
knowledge and technology outputs.
South Korea leads in terms of creative outputs, which include intangible assets (such as global value of 5,000 most valuable brands), creative goods and services, and creative goods exports (such as movies, music, and dramas).
India leads in terms of number of AI start-ups, scoring ahead of other APAC economies. This may be linked to the fact that total investments in AI start-ups in India stood at USD$3.24 billion in 2022, with funding devoted to AI start-ups totalling USD$7.73 billion between 2013 and 2022.
AI readiness will impact deployment of generative AI
Generative AI is changing the way governments and businesses are thinking about AI. McKinsey projects
that generative AI could grow the Asia-Pacific region's economy by USD$2.6 trillion to USD$4.4 trillion annually by 2030.
“For countries to succeed in this exciting AI environment, including the adoption of generative AI, their economies require a sufficient level of AI readiness," says Sassoon Grigorian, VP of APAC Government Affairs, Salesforce. "Singapore is leading the charge across the Asia Pacific with a focus on strategic AI deployment and safeguarding the responsible use of AI. Strong institutional, infrastructural, organisational, and ethical foundations around AI will be critical to success now and in our global AI future."
AI risk must be treated as seriously as the climate crisis
Despite the hype and fanfare surrounding generative AI, so far it's mostly being used to turbocharge the spread of disinformation
. A recent report
by NewsGuard, a media research organisation, found that more than 140 major brands were paying for ads that end up on junk websites written by AI.
Another popular use case for AI is scammers who are using deepfake videos and voice recordings to scam people online and drive a new wave of fraud. Celebrities including Tom Hanks
and the world's biggest YouTuber, MrBeast, have recently been used in deepfake videos to scam unsuspecting people online.
Meanwhile, leading figures of AI technology continue to warn about the many risks that artificial intelligence poses. In an interview
with The Guardian, Google's DeepMind chief warned that the AI risk must be treated as seriously as the climate crisis, and he called for an equivalent body similar to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to be created for AI to oversee the development of the technology.
“We must take the risks of AI as seriously as other major global challenges, like climate change,” he said. “It took the international community too long to coordinate an effective global response to this, and we’re living with the consequences of that now. We can’t afford the same delay with AI.”