Nicklaus: St. Louis won’t lead the artificial intelligence revolution, but it can be a

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The robot apocalypse may be science fiction, but the artificial intelligence revolution is real.

That revolution, according to a new Brookings Institution report, is likely to transform some regional economies while leaving others behind. Fortunately for St. Louis, we’re on the list of potential AI beneficiaries.

Artificial intelligence is a catch-all term for technology that allows computers to learn, reason and make decisions. It powers everything from self-driving cars to recommendation engines that tell you which book or movie you might like.

Unfortunately for the middle part of the country, AI’s economic impact is highly concentrated. The San Francisco Bay area alone accounts for a quarter of AI patents and companies. Include 13 other technology hubs, most on the east and west coasts, and two-thirds of AI activity happens in a handful of cities.

Mark Muro, a Brookings senior fellow and co-author of the report, thinks that winner-take-most outcome is unhealthy.

“We’ve seen the problem that has emerged with technology, where the vast proportion of job creation happens in a handful of metros,” he said. “Most of the country feels remote from that and is beginning to mutiny. We’re losing a national consensus on technology’s value.”

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