Over the next few years almost 250,000 public sector jobs could be replaced by robots, according to a report from thinktank Reform. Whilst, administrative staff across the public sector and civil service such as firemen and policemen could see their jobs replaced by a bot to save up to £4billion per year and improve efficiency across front line jobs.
Technologies such as Artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics are helpful in some aspects of day to day job like filing and inputting data into systems, and they are regarded as posing a significant threat to people’s jobs. However, more superior roles like Nurses and Policemen could also soon to be taken over by robots, which can do a more ‘efficient’ job, such as diagnosing patients or catching criminals with facial recognition technology.
CBR lists the 5 jobs that are most at risk of being replaced by robots.
Introducing AI systems, such as IBM Watson or Pepper Robot, across hospitals allows patients to get a much quicker and more accurate diagnosis than they would with a nurse doctor using a traditional lab system.
Today, IBM Watson is used to look at a patient’s symptoms, taking into account any medical history and formulate a conclusion based on this information to deliver a diagnosis to patients. Watson works quicker and gives a more efficient report than humans as Reform’s report revealed that IBM Watson’s diagnosis success rate was at 90% compared to 50% for human doctors.
Having such a vast amount of information at its disposal, Watson’s accuracy for diagnoses and collection of data is much more reliable because its knowledge is all evidence based. This leaves less room for mistake or missing out of data and gives patients a better experience through treatment and diagnosis. Strong statistics in Watson’s favour suggest good reason to believe that within the next 20 years nurses’ jobs could be redundant and diagnoses left to bots to give to patients.
Pepper Robot acts as an administrative role to check in patients and directing or taking them to the specified location for their appointment. Belgian hospital AZ Damiaam in Ostend already uses Softbank’s robot to assist patients. By giving robots this jobs gives healthcare professional more time to use on actual tasks giving patients a better quality of care.
Compared to nurses, front-line policing jobs are less likely to be taken over in favour of robots, the simple reason being that the likelihood of the UK population trusting a robotic front line officer as much as a human isn’t very high.
However, the administrative side of policing jobs could be taken over within a closer timeframe than the public expects, such as police report centres. Daily routines such as taking calls, filing paperwork and other admin jobs could easily become a robotic way of life in the near future.
For example, if reporting goes digital and UK citizens can send their findings in via social media or email robots can use artificial intelligence to sift through the data and identify what is needed and what isn’t and if there are any gaps in the market. It saves time and effort of police and allows forces to spend more time on the front line than in the offices.
On the other hand, areas of the world such as Dubai have furthered the development of policing robots by installing patrol officers in the city’s biggest malls and most popular tourist attractions. Developing such robots allows citizens of Dubai to report crimes, pay fines and obtain information, creating a more efficient way for the country to record data and ultimately helping reduce crime rates and get in touch with police stations quickly if necessary.
Another highly administrative role in the public sector is a banker role. With the majority of a banker’s job role including data input or transferring data from one area to another, the ease of replacing workers with robots to complete day to day tasks is the future. Nordic bank Nordea has already introduced AI technology to speed up customer services regarding loans and applications.
As with many other civil servants in the public sector, robots replacing the admin jobs of industries could enhance the overall performance of the industry by allowing human workers to commit to more in-depth tasks by freeing up time after eliminating tedious tasks.
In banks, a robot can better collate and analyse data than a human banker by carrying out the task quicker and more efficiently. Some banks are incorporating the use of IBM to serve customers better and give them a better service and satisfaction. Using robots would enable banks to collate one view of a customer profile and what services they are using. By incorporating robots into banks will eliminate tedious tasks and give more time for larger tasks that require human input.
Such a traditional job could also be axed with the introduction of drones. Becoming somewhat of a trend over the last couple of weeks, drones have been testing delivery of foods and consumer goods such a Flytrex which are completing 20 deliveries per day. Thus, leaving deliveries to be sent via drone rather than postal workers.
Furthermore, other tech giants such as Amazon and UPS have already invested in drone fleets to deliver their goods and services; however UPS’ tested drones only have a battery span of 30 minutes so postmen are safe in their jobs for now.
Other areas of difficulty include weather, wildlife and hacked drones to put off services across the country and around the world. Therefore, I believe one day drones will be the one delivering goods but not today, tomorrow or in the coming years.
In some cases, simple day-to-day jobs could be a thing of the past for some workers and replace their role with robots instead. However, other areas may see their jobs replaced so that they can progress and develop their job role and skills further in the industry.
Whilst a lot of civil servants can and will most likely be completely replaced with robots, other aspects of the public sector could see a helping hand from bots rather than replacements. Firemen share similar qualities with the police force, that they are trusted by the population and not many citizens across the country would be as trustworthy towards a robotic fireman as a human being, I’m sure.
With this in mind, a walking, humanoid robot titled ‘Shipboard Autonomous Fire fighting Robot’ (SAFFiR) has been developed by researchers at Virginia Tech. The bot is equipped with thermal imaging technology able to identify overheated equipment or areas, infrared vision allowing vision through densely affected areas and has the ability to direct a hose to eliminate fires.
The robot’s qualities will help human fire fighters aid a blaze they are called to in scenarios such as limited vision, the robot could be sent in to drench the fire with its high vision ability leaving firemen with less risk to their lives. Giving the helping hand to the blue light service could lead to eliminating the initial attack and allow workforces to reduce numbers in individual teams and spread the talent elsewhere to help other cases around the area.
The future of robotic civil servants as a whole across the government’s workforce is still a way off, as UPS demonstrated with the 30 minute lasting drone. However, robotic technology such as IBM Watson has developed the NHS radically and enabled Doctors to improve patient experience across the healthcare sector so in that case robots in the industry wouldn’t be a bad thing at all.