Brunei Darussalam ranked 57th globally and fourth in ASEAN (after Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia) in the 2021 Government Artificial Intelligence (AI) Readiness Index.
The Sultanate scored high in data and infrastructure with 74.23 out of 100; 41.05 in government and 43.50 in the technology sector. The country’s overall score is 52.93 out of 100 where the global average is 47.42.
The index is an annual report released by a United Kingdom (UK)-based research group in collaboration with Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
The United States (US) tops the global rankings, in large part thanks to the unrivalled size and maturity of its technology sector. Singapore ranks second as a result of its institutional strength and government digital capacity. The other countries in the top five are Western European (UK, Finland and the Netherlands).
For the first time, East Asian countries make up one quarter of the top 20 ranked countries.
The top-scoring countries in the region are boosted by skilled workforces and advanced research and technological infrastructures, which drive the region’s competitive research capacity. Other high scoring groups in the 2021 index include the Nordic countries. Finland and its peers outperform their economic size (in terms of GDP) as a result of effective governments and innovative business environments.
The index unearths clear inter-regional and intra-regional inequalities. The average score of the two lowest ranked regions is 36.27 (Sub-Saharan Africa and Central and South Asia), whereas the average for the top two is more than double that with 76.75 (North America and Western Europe). There is also an evident divide within regions, with the greatest range of scores seen in East Asia and Middle East and North Africa.
As governments are increasingly aware of the opportunities and risks presented by AI, the report sees a continued proliferation of national AI strategies globally. They have found that 30 per cent of the countries included in their rankings now have a national AI strategy and a further nine per cent have confirmed they are drafting one.
This has been paired with government action to create a resilient environment for the use of AI in both the public and private sectors, marked by countries making advancements in cybersecurity and data protection legislation. While government action is increasing, the private technology sector has also grown significantly. Public technology companies have increased in size and private technology startups have found homes in a growing number
They are hopeful that governments will be able to harness these private sector advancements to improve their public service delivery, especially with new services based on AI technologies.
These trends within the public and private sectors are made possible by a backdrop of sufficient technological infrastructure and the availability of large amounts of data on populations. The report finds signs that more and more data are becoming available across regions as the use of the Internet and mobile devices grows.
However, the index exposes inequalities in access to the Internet between genders and socioeconomic groups, presenting obstacles to the creation of AI tools which answer to all citizens’ needs, as the public moves online and governments aim to keep up, ensuring the representativeness of data must remain a priority
The index, published yearly, ranks countries based on 42 indicators across three pillars: government, the technology sector, and data and infrastructure.
Meanwhile, the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) said AI could contribute USD1 trillion to the whole Southeast Asian economy by 2030, but progress in technology in the region remains slow.