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3 countries are more prepared for AI than the rest of us

Automation will affect labor markets and economies around the world, and no one is really ready. But researchers say some countries are ahead of the rest.

An orange, vaguely human-shaped robot stands mounted in a round glass display case, which is surrounded by a metal railing. Cars are on display in a large show room behind it.
A robot on display in a Ford factory in 2010. The Automation Readiness Index ranks countries on how prepared they are in 2018 for the future impact of robotics and artificial intelligence.
Stephen Shankland/CNET

No country is fully prepared for the impact of robots powered by artificial intelligence. But South Korea, Singapore and Germany are the most prepared countries in the world in 2018, according to a new study.

To get ready for automation, countries need to focus on retraining their workforce and shifting education strategies to center on the economy to come, the study's authors wrote. They can also build in an advantage by fostering the creation of AI-backed technology on their home turf. The report was released Monday by multinational company ABB and The Economist Intelligence Unit.  

The study speaks to the wave of change experts expect automation to bring to the world's labor markets and economies, as well as the difficulty of anticipating these changes and getting ready for them.

"I don't think anybody confidently predicts what the implications are for the labor market in terms of the jobs that will be available, still less in terms of the types of knowledge, skills and attitudes that will be important in it," said Elizabeth Fordham in the report. Fordham is a senior adviser for global relations at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Directorate for Education and Skills.

As noted in Tech Republic, the study points to several countries that are doing well in one category of preparation but not others. It also varies by region. For example, Canada came in fifth for reforms to educational curriculums, though its efforts in the province of Ontario are further along than those of its federal government, the report's authors wrote.

Even though the future of "automated intelligence" is hard to predict, countries everywhere need to try to anticipate it, the report's authors wrote.

"Policy should not wait for too long, however," they said, "because the business world is moving ahead with automation at speed."

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