Anyone working in Central London a couple of weeks ago will remember vividly the chaos created by the tube strike that affected all of the central lines. Crammed buses, “Boris Bikes” stacked on top of each other, and overbooked boats going to The City. Luckily for us, we may have experienced this for the last time, as technology now allows train drivers to fill the roles previously done by conductors, along with a range of other industries.
The Telegraph recently published a piece by Andrew Haldenby, director of Reform, the public services think tank. Haldenby writes that: “Aslef has rightly accepted that technology allows train drivers to fill the roles that conductors used to play, for example by operating doors (as they have on the Docklands Light Railway since 1987)”.
This is one of several initiatives that have been made recently, which explains to the public that: yes, artificial intelligence might replace some jobs, but it will eventually be for the better for the majority.
NHS also announced that they will collaborate with three AI-companies in order to deliver health advice by phone in London, Yorkshire and the West Midlands, due to the advancement of AI and its ability to understand complex areas like medical diagnosis.
Also due to AI, HMRC have been able to reduce its administrative staff by a third over the past decade, which has resulted in great savings for the taxpayers, due to its online self-assessment service.
The Telegraph explains how this not only means savings for taxpayers, but equally a sufficient improvement in the service offered, as it is more efficient and leaves less room for mistakes than when handled by humans.
The industries where we might see the largest savings, is in Whitehall and the NHS. Reform has just published a study that explains how automation will replace up to nine in 10 of the Whitehall’s 140,000 administrative roles in the next decade. This adds up to a £2.5 bn saving each year, and the same goes for the NHS who is able to save a further £1.7 bn.
“When the national debt remains twice as high as its level before the financial crisis – and still rising – these efficiencies are essential”, the Telegraph writes, following up with: “Yet the real benefit will come from a shift in the culture of the public sector away from the bureaucracy that citizens find so frustrating”.
One example is a common problem that many of us have come across – getting through to your GP in the morning, early enough to actually secure a slot. Now, because of the ability to book appointments online instead, some GP surgeries work with a ratio of one receptionist to five GP’s, which usually was on a 1:1 basis.
This is both cost-effective, as well as freeing up patients from sitting in frustrating lines on the phone, only to realise that you were too late to book an appointment regardless.
Haldenby writes that this change might seem controversial to some, and emphasise the importance of handling any job losses sensitively. However, the economy has handled very well, the shrinking of the public sector workforce so far, and the increase in private sector employment since 2010, has been eight times the size of the fall in the public sectors over the same period.
This article was first found at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/05/ai-will-soon-replace-hundreds-thousands-public-sector-workers/