If you are looking for an answer to the question What is Artificial Intelligence? and you only have a minute, then here's the definition the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence offers on its home page: "the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines."
However, if you are fortunate enough to have more than a minute, then please get ready to embark upon an exciting journey exploring AI (but beware, it could last a lifetime) …
China has unveiled a five-year plan to drive its ambition of becoming a global innovation hub for robotics by 2025. It hopes to get there by focusing on enhancements in key components such as servomotors and control panels. In releasing the five-year roadmap, China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Tuesday said operating income from the country's robotics industry was projected to grow an average of 20% between 2021 and 2025. This sector expanded at an average annual growth rate of 15% between 2016 and 2020, with operating income passing 100 billion yuan ($15.69 billion) for the first time last year. An executive guide to the technology and market drivers behind the $135 billion robotics market.
The use of industrial robots in factories around the world is accelerating at a high rate: 126 robots per 10,000 employees is the new average of global robot density in the manufacturing industries – nearly double the number five years ago (2015: 66 units). This is according to the 2021 World Robot Report. By regions, the average robot density in Asia/Australia is 134 units, in Europe 123 units and in the Americas 111 units. The top 5 most automated countries in the world are: South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Germany, and Sweden. "Robot density is the barometer to track the degree of automation adoption in the manufacturing industry around the world," says Milton Guerry, President of the International Federation of Robotics.
Research has found a link between higher densities of robots in a population and increased levels of productivity. The study – conducted by supply chain specialists Balloon One – analysed countries with similar levels of manufacturing output and looked at their densities of robots and GDP per hours worked. Balloon One's research found that: "This analysis shows that countries with a robot density of 150 or more are, on average, experiencing higher productivity levels than those with a robot density of 149 or less. While it could be argued that this is a result of some nations being more focused on manufacturing as part of their economy, and therefore having developed better infrastructure to meet demand, higher levels of productivity aren't skewed towards nations that rely more heavily on manufacturing. In fact, manufacturing levels are, on average, higher (17.86% of GDP) in less-robot-dense nations. Because there is a correlation between robot density and higher levels of productivity, it seems that if the UK increased its robot density, it could boost productivity. This begs the question of whether the country should invest more in automation if it wants to see a boost in its manufacturing productivity. It certainly seems to be working for nations of a similar standing."
The average robot density in the manufacturing industry hit a new global record of 113 units per 10,000 employees. By regions, Western Europe (225 units) and the Nordic European countries (204 units) have the most automated production, followed by North America (153 units) and South East Asia (119 units). The world s top 10 most automated countries are: Singapore (1), South Korea (2), Japan (3), Germany (4), Sweden (5), Denmark (6), Hong Kong (7), Chinese Taipei (8), USA (9) and Belgium and Luxemburg (10). This is according to the latest World Robotics statistics, issued by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). "Robot density is the number of operational industrial robots relative to the number of workers," says Milton Guerry, President of the International Federation of Robotics.
The rise of the machines has well and truly started. Data from the International Federation of Robotics reveals that the pace of industrial automation is accelerating across much of the developed world with 74 installed industrial robots per 10,000 employees globally in 2016. By 2020, that increased to 113 across the manufacturing sector. Asia now has a robot density of 118 units per 10,000 workers and that figure is 114 and 103 in Europe and the Americas, respectively. China is one of the countries recording the highest growth levels in industrial automation but nowhere has a robot density like South Korea.
Launched in 2015, Made in China 2025(MIC 2025) is the Chinese government's ten-year plan to update China's manufacturing base by focussing on the country's ten high tech industries. The strategy focuses to outline Beijing's aspirations to dominate the global economy of the future, in pivot areas like new energy vehicles, advanced robotics, next-generation information technology (IT) and telecommunications, robotics and artificial intelligence. In the domain of industrial robots, China has earmarked new development plans and is making impressive progress. Conditions are ideal in China for building a thriving robotics industry, serving both the domestic and overseas market. First, the Chinese government's efforts to bring the country into the global map by offering generous tax breaks and subsidies to robotics startups.
China purchased 141,000 industrial robots in 2017, up 58.1 per cent year-on-year, but foreign brands accounted for nearly three-quarters of that, showing that the gap is still widening between Chinese robot makers and their foreign peers. The China International Robot Industry Summit, held in Shanghai, said the sales and growth rate of industrial robots hit records in 2017. Among industrial robots, 37,825 were domestically manufactured, up 29.8 per cent year-on-year. "As robotics is expanding into nearly every industry, Chinese robot makers should realise the gap between them and foreign brands, take advantage of China's robotics development boom and learn from foreign experience to help China grow from the world's largest robot market into a robot manufacturing power," said Qu Daokui, president of China Robot Industry Alliance and chief executive of the Shenyang-based Siasun Robot and Automation company. According to Mr Qu, foreign robot makers sold 103,191 robots to China in 2017, up 71.9 per cent from a year earlier.
The rise of the machines has well and truly started. Data from the International Federation of Robotics reveals that the pace of industrial automation is accelerating across much of the developed world with 66 installed industrial robots per 10,000 employees globally in 2015. A year later, that increased to 74. Europe has a robot density of 99 units per 10,000 workers and that number is 84 and 63 in the Americas and Asia respectively. China is one of the countries recording the highest growth levels in industrial automation but nowhere has a robot density like South Korea.
Where are the robots, exactly? One answer--if you read the steady flow of doomy articles online -- is that automation is everywhere, not just all over the media but (you would have to conclude) thoroughly infiltrating the economy. In that sense, the trend seems omnipresent even as it spawns a kind of free-floating dread amongst the chattering class. Yet, that can't be right. Almost nothing in today's economy is evenly distributed, whether it be technology, productivity, output, or inclusive prosperity.