Skilled and Mobile: Survey Evidence of AI Researchers' Immigration Preferences

Remco Zwetsloot, Baobao Zhang, Noemi Dreksler, Lauren Kahn, Markus Anderljung, Allan Dafoe, Michael C. Horowitz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Countries, companies, and universities are increasingly competing over top-tier artificial intelligence (AI) researchers. Where are these researchers likely to immigrate and what affects their immigration decisions? We conducted a survey (n = 524) of the immigration preferences and motivations of researchers that had papers accepted at one of two prestigious AI conferences: the Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) and the International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML). We find that the U.S. is the most popular destination for AI researchers, followed by the U.K., Canada, Switzerland, and France. A country's professional opportunities stood out as the most common factor that influences immigration decisions of AI researchers, followed by lifestyle and culture, the political climate, and personal relations. The destination country's immigration policies were important to just under half of the researchers surveyed, while around a quarter noted current immigration difficulties to be a deciding factor. Visa and immigration difficulties were perceived to be a particular impediment to conducting AI research in the U.S., the U.K., and Canada. Implications of the findings for the future of AI talent policies and governance are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAIES 2021 - Proceedings of the 2021 AAAI/ACM Conference on AI, Ethics, and Society
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
Pages1050-1059
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781450384735
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 21 2021
Externally publishedYes
Event4th AAAI/ACM Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Ethics, and Society, AIES 2021 - Virtual, Online, United States
Duration: May 19 2021May 21 2021

Publication series

NameAIES 2021 - Proceedings of the 2021 AAAI/ACM Conference on AI, Ethics, and Society

Conference

Conference4th AAAI/ACM Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Ethics, and Society, AIES 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityVirtual, Online
Period5/19/215/21/21

Keywords

  • ai researchers
  • immigration policy
  • survey research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence

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