Mentions of artificial intelligence within the filings of companies in the aerospace and defence sector fell 20% between the third and fourth quarters of 2021.
In total, the frequency of sentences related to artificial intelligence during 2021 was 612% higher than in 2016 when GlobalData, from whom our data for this article is taken, first began to track the key issues referred to in company filings.
When companies in the aerospace and defence sector publish annual and quarterly reports, ESG reports and other filings, GlobalData analyses the text and identifies individual sentences that relate to disruptive forces facing companies in the coming years. Artificial intelligence is one of these topics - companies that excel and invest in these areas are thought to be better prepared for the future business landscape and better equipped to survive unforeseen challenges.
To assess whether artificial intelligence is featuring more in the summaries and strategies of companies in the aerospace and defence sector, two measures were calculated. Firstly, we looked at the percentage of companies which have mentioned artificial intelligence at least once in filings during the past twelve months - this was 81% compared to 40% in 2016. Secondly, we calculated the percentage of total analysed sentences that referred to artificial intelligence.
Of the 20 biggest employers in the aerospace and defence sector, Leonardo was the company which referred to artificial intelligence the most during 2021. GlobalData identified 68 artificial intelligence-related sentences in the Italy-based company's filings - 1.1% of all sentences. Thales mentioned artificial intelligence the second most - the issue was referred to in 0.5% of sentences in the company's filings. Other top employers with high artificial intelligence mentions included Rheinmetall, BAE and Saab.
This analysis provides an approximate indication of which companies are focusing on artificial intelligence and how important the issue is considered within the aerospace and defence sector, but it also has limitations and should be interpreted carefully. For example, a company mentioning artificial intelligence more regularly is not necessarily proof that they are utilising new techniques or prioritising the issue, nor does it indicate whether the company's ventures into artificial intelligence have been successes or failures.
GlobalData also categorises artificial intelligence mentions by a series of subthemes. Of these subthemes, the most commonly referred to topic in the fourth quarter of 2021 was 'smart robots', which made up 64% of all artificial intelligence subtheme mentions by companies in the aerospace and defence sector.