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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A handful of superstar U.S. metro areas are leading the way in AI, while much of the rest of the country is at risk of being left behind.

Why it matters: AI can enhance productivity and growth in multiple sectors, but as a technology that tends to centralize around a handful of talent hubs, it could also increase regional economic disparity across the country.

What's happening: In a new report released today, researchers at the Brookings Institution assessed the geographic distribution of AI talent, investment and research around the U.S.

  • It shouldn't be surprising that the Bay Area — including both San Francisco and San Jose — was far and away the leader, accounting for one-quarter of AI conference papers, patents and companies.
  • Add in another 13 "early adopter" cities — including New York, Austin and Seattle — and these 15 metro areas account for two-thirds of the nation's AI assets and capabilities.

The other side: More than half of the 261 U.S. metro areas surveyed by Brookings exhibit no significant AI activities at all.

What they're saying: "AI is at the stage where it is highly dependent on a super-specific talent base, and there's also a heavy need for massive computing power," says Mark Muro, policy director at Brookings' Metropolitan Policy Program and a co-author of the report.

  • "Those resources aren't available everywhere," he adds.

What to watch: Muro notes that many of the AI early adopters benefited from federal investments in R&D that could potentially be spread more evenly around the country.

  • The report finds nearly 90 additional metro areas could be potential future centers of AI growth, especially if they can attract investment from global and national tech leaders.

The bottom line: "The winner-takes-all dynamics of AI are strong," notes Muro — and pushing against them won't be easy.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Dec 16, 2021 - Energy & Environment

"Untapped potential" in climate tech investments

Expand chart
Data: PwC; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

Private investment into climate technologies is surging, but there's misalignment between where the money is going and areas with the highest potential for slashing emissions, a new report finds.

Driving the news: PwC is out with a wide-ranging look at climate tech funding and deals. Venture capital and private equity investment surged in the second half of 2020 and the first half of 2021 (the end of the period studied), totaling $87.5 billion.

Updated 2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a potentially historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Swastikas found outside Union Station in D.C.

People walk through Union Station on Jan. 16 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Drawings of swastikas appeared etched around the entrance to Union Station in Washington, D.C., on Friday morning.

Driving the news: "An investigation is underway with Amtrak Police and the Metropolitan Police Department after swastikas were reported on the exterior of Washington Union Station on Friday," Amtrak spokesperson Kimberly Woods said in a statement to Axios.

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