The independent, London-based think tank warned that Whitehall, the NHS, the education sector and the police could see a significant reduction in their workforce over the next 10 to 15 years.
Slashing the number of employees could save as much as £4bn ($5bn) a year, which would otherwise be paid in annual wages.
An estimated 91,208 of 112,726 NHS administrator roles (outside of primary care) could be automated.
— Reform (@reformthinktank) 6 February 2017
About 30 per cent of nurses’ activities including collecting information and administering non-intravenous medicine will be carried out by robots instead.
Artificial intelligence “chat bots” could replace up to 90 percent of Whitehall’s administrators, which means approximately 130,000 civil service roles could be cut.
“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,” said Alexander Hitchcock, the report’s co-author.
Alan Crean, a UK-based professional services automation expert agrees, but insists that workers will be forced to improve their set of skills as robots become increasingly competent.
“Extreme Automation is a good thing, as it will increase life spans, life quality, and employment quality,” he told Verdict. “But it does leave us with an issue – we need a larger and better educated workforce to keep up with the opportunity.”
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Fifteen million UK jobs are at risk of automation, according to a Bank of England (BoE) study in November 2015.
Low-skilled workers, who carry out “administrative, clerical and production tasks,” are most likely to be replaced by sophisticated technology said Andy Haldane, the BoE’s chief economist at the time.
However, Matthew Griffin, a leading innovation expert told Verdict that mass automation will affect skilled workers too:
“Thanks to the rise of increasingly capable, creative, intelligent and resilient technologies and machines, such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, bots, drones and robots – some of which can self-evolve, self-learn and self-replicate at speed – we are already seeing a significant rise in the number, and types of jobs being automated across both blue and white collar sectors around the world.”
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