Robots and artificial intelligence (AI) may replace 250,000 public sector workers, including doctors and nurses, in the UK over the next 15 years and save taxpayers billions, a new report published today said.
According to public-services thinktank Reform, websites and AI “chat bots” could replace up to 90 per cent of Whitehall’s administrators, as well as tens of thousands in the National Health Service (NHS) and surgeries, by 2030 – saving as much as four billion pounds a year.
The report said even nurses and doctors could fall victim to the march of the machines, which can outperform humans at some diagnoses and routine surgical procedures, and are more efficient at collecting information, ‘The Guardian’ reported.
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Public services should become more flexible by embracing a gig economy where workers support themselves through a variety of flexible jobs acquired through online platforms, the report said.
“Public services can become the next Uber, using the gig economy to employ locum doctors and supply teachers,” Reform said.
“Twenty per cent of public-sector workers hold strategic, ‘cognitive’ roles. They will use data analytics to identify patterns – improving decision-making and allocating workers most efficiently,” the report said.
According to the report The NHS, for example, can focus on the highest risk patients, reducing unnecessary hospital admissions.
The UK police and other emergency services are already using data to predict areas of greatest risk from burglary and fire, it said.
“Such a rapid advance in the use of technology may seem controversial, and any job losses must be handled sensitively. But the result would be public services that are better, safer, smarter and more affordable,” Alexander Hitchcock, the report’s co-author, said.