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Globally, no city is even close to being prepared for the challenges brought by AI and automation. Of those ranking highest in terms of readiness, nearly 70% are outside the U.S., according to a report by Oliver Wyman.

Expand chart
Data: Oliver Wyman Forum; Table: Axios Visuals

Why it matters: Cities are ground zero for the 4th industrial revolution. 68% of the world's population will live in cities by 2050, per UN estimates. During the same period, AI is expected to upend most aspects of how those people live and work.

The big picture: Many cities are focused on leveraging technology to improve their own economies — such as becoming more efficient and sustainable "smart cities" or attracting companies to compete with Silicon Valley.

  • But the majority of cities have ignored or downplayed the potential and significant downsides of the rise of automation, Oliver Wyman concluded after interviewing more than 50 business and city leaders and reviewing 250 city planning documents.
"What struck me most is just how many cities didn't have this on their radar screens. The thing about AI is that it's fundamentally opaque, and that makes it harder for cities to keep track of it. The overall focus on smart cities almost masks the broader trends."
— Timo Pervane, partner at Oliver Wyman, told Axios

What they found: No city or continent has a significant advantage when it comes to AI readiness, but some have parts of the recipe.

  • Size matters: Megacities have an advantage thanks to their well-developed business communities and high-skilled talent pools. But smaller cities win regarding the "vision" for the next few decades — 5 of the top 5 cities have populations under 5 million people, with Amsterdam and Stockholm seen as global leaders.
  • Urban realists: A global survey of 10,000 city dwellers found that, while they are optimistic about the opportunities provided by technologies in their cities, roughly 45% anticipate job loss resulting from AI or automation.
  • Small city confidence: In the U.S. there is an inverse relationship between city size and perception of job loss. Pittsburgh and Boston are the least concerned about job loss due to AI.

By the numbers: Here are the survey stats that stood out.

  • 46% of Chinese citizens see data privacy violations as the #1 risk from AI.
  • 95% of Shanghai residents believe technological change will make their lives better, compared with 47% in Berlin (the global average is 69%).
  • 89% of respondents in Dubai said they believe their city government has a strategy to respond to the rise of AI, compared with 45% in San Francisco (the global average is 58%).

Cities to watch:

  • Dubai scores high points in the vision category, having appointed a minister for artificial intelligence.
  • Moscow is developing its industrial and tech sectors by making it easier to do business there.
  • Berlin gets high marks for its "vision" and ranks first in the large city category for "activation," meaning its city leaders have a track record of executing forward-looking plans.

Reality check: Cities can't deal with the repercussions of AI on their own. National and regional governments will also have to step in with policy strategies in collaboration with businesses.

Go deeper: See how your city measures up

Go deeper

Twitter debuts subscription products to help double revenue by 2023

Photo: Cole Burston/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Twitter said Thursday that it plans to increase the amount of money it makes off of its users by allowing them to pay creators directly for content they like.

Why it matters: The company is trying to broaden its revenue stream away from being dependent mostly on ads, and particularly on ads from big brands.

DHS directing $77 million to combat domestic violent extremism in states, cities

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

For the first time, states and localities will spend at least $77 million of Department of Homeland Security grant money on combatting domestic violent extremism, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced on Thursday.

Why it matters: Domestic terrorism has been on the rise in the U.S., spurred on by growing polarization and the mainstreaming of online conspiracy theories. In the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, Mayorkas has made fighting the problem a "National Priority Area."

Senate confirms former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as energy secretary

Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

The Senate voted 64-35 on Thursday to confirm former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as secretary of the Department of Energy.

Why it matters: Granholm, only the second woman to head the department, will play a key role in President Biden’s efforts to accelerate the U.S. shift to clean energy and help other countries do the same.