The San Francisco Bay Area has ruled the tech industry for decades, from the early days of personal computers to the social media boom.
Now a A new study from the Brookings Institution He points out that the rise of generative AI, fueled by the popularity of the ChatGPT chatbot, could further solidify the Bay Area’s hold on the technology.
The report, released Thursday by the Washington-based think tank, said generative AI could amplify the geography of “winner takes most” jobs. The winners so far are San Francisco and San Jose, California.
While this may not be surprising, the Brookings report may help dispel the notion that smaller tech hubs like Austin, Texas, or Miami will be home to the next generation of big tech companies. If anything, it suggests that the Gulf region’s hold on the tech industry could only get stronger.
Brookings Institution researchers found that across more than 380 metro areas in the United States, a quarter of the nearly 2,200 jobs posted by AI over the past year were in the Bay Area.
“This exciting new technology may lead to more agglomeration, and that’s an economic, demographic, and societal problem,” said Marc Morrow, author of the report and a senior fellow at Brookings Metro, a research unit focused on cities and public policy.
The job advertisements follow a general investment frenzy in the field of artificial intelligence, which is skewed sharply towards the Bay Area. In addition to industry giants like Google and Meta, nine high-value generative AI startups are based in San Francisco or Silicon Valley, including OpenAI, Scale AI, Anthropic, Inflection AI, Databricks, and Cerebras, according to PitchBook, which tracks startups.
Advertisements for AI jobs are not nearly as common as placements for other technology skill sets, and AI experience has been a hot, high-paying specialty for years. Technology centers outside the US, such as Toronto and Cambridge, England, have also attracted their share of AI researchers.
Brookings Institution researchers analyzed US job listings data collected by employment analysis firm Lightcast. Posts were counted as constructional AI jobs if they included at least one of three terms: generative AI, ChatGPT, or large language models. Large language models are used to build generative AI programs.
New York ranked third in job advertisements posted with artificial intelligence. It is home to a top-tier AI startup, Hugging Face, and several major tech companies have teams of AI researchers in the city.
As a center for many industries beyond technology, New York may offer a glimpse into how technology has spread beyond the early work being done in the Bay Area.
“Every major financial, media, advertising, and consulting company is immersed in figuring out how to adapt and use generative AI,” said Julie Samuels, executive director of Tech: NYC, a nonprofit industry group. “It happens every day here.”
But the growing number of AI jobs in New York, many of which are high paying, doesn’t address the challenge of democratizing the technology across the country.
A series of other studies in recent months have assessed the potential economic impact of generative AI, the technology engine behind chatbots like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google Bard that can write business reports, computer code and poetry. This research focused on the potential of generative AI to enhance productivity, transform work, and automate millions of jobs.
Research hundreds of new technologies It has been shown for decades that the leading centers of development usually retain an enormous amount of wealth and skills generated from them. And the new Brookings report is essentially an update of Study 2021 around the geography of AI, which has raised concerns about the conglomeration of AI-fueled prosperity.
However, the new report notes increased support and funding for “place-based industrial policy,” which seeks to increase economic prosperity in more places.
For example, under the CHIPS and Science Act, which was signed into law last year, the federal government set aside an initial $500 million appropriation to create 20 regional technology centers. Investment in artificial intelligence technology and training has been identified as a priority for these pillars.
“We need to create ecosystems of technology innovation in more communities across the country, especially those that have historically been overlooked,” Gina Raimondo, Secretary of Commerce, said in an emailed statement.
The National Science Foundation has established 25 AI institutes across the country, working with government agencies and companies. $500 million of the program is disbursed in grants of $20 million each for AI programs, which conduct basic and applied research in areas such as climate change, agriculture, and education.
Grants go to undergraduate institutions including those at the University of Oklahoma, Ohio State University, Iowa State University, Washington State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, the University at Buffalo, and the University of California, Irvine.
With artificial intelligence, there may be an opportunity for a broader geographic distribution of wealth than with some previous technologies.
“We’re just talking information, bits, and we don’t have to be in the same place to work on bits,” said Michael Littman, director of the Information and Intelligent Systems division at the National Science Foundation.
With the rise of artificial intelligence, Dr. Littman said, “We really need as many people as possible to be involved in this transformation.”
The Brookings Report calls for maintaining and expanding these policies. “We’re starting to see recognition that the geography of technology is really important to the shape of opportunity in America,” said Mr. Morrow, co-author of the report.