The San Francisco Bay Area has dominated the technology industry for decades, from the early days of personal computers to the social media boom.

Now a a new study from the Brookings Institution suggests that the rise of generative artificial intelligence, fueled by the popularity of chat room ChatGPT, could tighten the Gulf’s grip on technology.

The report, which the Washington think tank published Thursday, said generative AI could expand “winner take most” geography for jobs. And the winners, so far, are San Francisco and San Jose, California.

While that 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 the Bay Area’s grip on the tech industry could be tightening.

Brookings researchers found that across more than 380 metro areas in the United States, a quarter of the roughly 2,200 generative AI jobs last year were in the Bay Area.

“This exciting new technology can drive more crowding, and that’s a problem economically, demographically and for society,” said Mark Muro, an author of the report and a senior fellow at Brookings Metro, a research unit that focuses on cities and public policy. .

The jobs follow a generative AI investment frenzy that is heavily skewed toward the Bay Area. In addition to industry giants like Google and Meta, the nine most valuable startups in generative AI are based in San Francisco or Silicon Valley, including OpenAI, Scale AI, Anthropic, Inflection AI, Databricks and Cerebras, according to PitchBook, which tracks. startups.

Jobs for AI work aren’t nearly as common as postings for other tech skill sets, and AI expertise has been a hot and highly paid specialty for years. Tech hubs outside the US, such as Toronto and Cambridge, England, have also attracted their share of AI researchers.

The Brookings researchers analyzed data on US job listings collected by Lightcast, a job analysis firm. Posts were counted as generative 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 software.

New York ranked third in generating AI jobs. It’s home to a high-profile generative AI startup, Hugging Face, and many of the big tech companies have teams of AI researchers in the city.

As a center for many industries besides technology, New York can offer a glimpse of how technology will spread beyond the early work done in the Bay Area.

“Every major financial, media, advertising and consulting firm is immersed in figuring out how they’re going to adapt and use generative AI,” said Julie Samuels, executive director of Tech:NYC, a nonprofit industry group. “And that happens every day here.”

But the growing number of AI jobs in New York, many of them high-paying, do not address the challenge of democratizing the technology across the country.

A series of other studies in recent months have assessed the likely economic impact of generative artificial intelligence, the technological engine behind chatbots such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard, which can write business reports, computer code and poetry. That research focused on the potential of generative AI to boost productivity, transform work and automate millions of jobs.

Research tracking hundreds of new technologies for decades shows that the pioneering hubs for development typically retain a vast amount of the wealth and skills generated by them. And the new Brookings report is essentially an update to a 2021 study on the geography of AI, which raised concerns about the accumulation of AI-fueled prosperity.

However, the new report points to increased support and funding for “place-based industrial policy”, which aims to increase economic prosperity in more places.

For example, under the CHIPS and Science Act, signed into law last year, the federal government made an initial appropriation of $500 million to establish 20 regional technology hubs. Investment in AI technology and training is identified as a priority for these hubs.

“We need to create ecosystems of technology innovation in more communities across the country, especially those that have historically been overlooked,” said Gina Raimondo, the commerce secretary, in an emailed statement.

The National Science Foundation has established 25 AI Institutes across the country, working with government agencies and companies. The program’s $500 million is disbursed in grants of $20 million each for AI programs that conduct basic and applied research in fields such as climate change, agriculture and education.

Grants go to university institutes including the University of Oklahoma, Ohio State University, Iowa State University, Washington State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, University at Buffalo and University of California, Irvine.

With artificial intelligence, there may be an opportunity for a wider geographic distribution of wealth than with some past technologies.

“We’re just talking about information, bits, and we don’t have to be in the same place to work on bits,” said Michael Littman, division director of information and intelligent systems at the National Science Foundation.

With the rise of AI, Dr. Littman said, “we really need to have as many people as possible participate in this change.”

The Brookings report calls for supporting and expanding such policies. “We’re starting to see a recognition that the geography of technology is really important to the shape of opportunity in America,” said Mr. Wall, the report’s co-author.

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