Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant offers an example of how AI is used in daily life. Pictured, an Amazon Echo Dot. Photo credit: Jay Suresh, via Wikimedia Commons

San Diego industries that embrace artificial intelligence generate an estimated $33.3 billion in annual gross regional product, according to a new study by a local economic group.

They also support an estimated 175,680 local jobs, many high paying, the report, “Measuring the Future: AI and San Diego’s Economy,” by the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, states.

The average salary in AI concentrated industries is $127,960. That’s 3.9% above the national average and more than 70% more than a San Diego worker’s average salary.

The proliferation of the technology “promises to be a transformative force for businesses worldwide – and like in many innovative industries – San Diego is at the forefront,” said Mark Cafferty, the EDC’s president and CEO.

Use of AI and machine-learning technologies have rapidly spread due to advances in computing power and speed. Customer-experience bots and assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, for instance, have become commonplace tools at home and at work.

Despite current economic conditions, 62% of AI developers expect to see the number of employees engaged in AI-related work grow over the next 12 months. In addition, two-thirds of firms agreed that AI has created new job opportunities.

Locally based talent also could help meet growing employer demand across the U.S.

For example, job postings data in Sun Belt metros like Austin and Miami show that companies continue to struggle to fill positions requiring facial and speech recognition skills – key specializations of AI developers in San Diego.

Meanwhile, predictive and forecasting AI could help alleviate hiring difficulties among firms in major economic and financial centers, including New York, Philadelphia and Chicago. More than eight in 10 AI developers in San Diego specialize in machine or deep learning technologies, a fundamental building block for predictive AI.

Specifically, these technologies support the development of new products and services, while improving efficiency and productivity, reducing costs and increasing revenues.

“We are energized that EDC’s report findings show local respondents see AI as truly helping the San Diego economy by creating more jobs – not eliminating them,” said Joe Rohner, a Booz Allen Hamilton director and leader in the firm’s analytics practice and AI services.

AI and machine learning also contribute to the nation’s military fitness, said Alfredo Ramirez, vice president of Northrop Grumman’s San Diego Autonomous Design Center of Excellence.

“Rapidly developing machine learning/artificial intelligence technology that enhances the work our men and women in uniform do every day is critical to the future of defense,” he said.

EDC officials say other reports that identify key industries and clusters where AI and machine learning have been implemented will follow.

The report was produced by San Diego Regional EDC, with support from the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, Northrop Grumman Corporation, ResMed, Lytx and Lockton.

– Staff reports

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