Public services powered by AI

AI is already transforming many areas within the private sector, but its enormous disruptive potential won’t stop there. The societal and economic innovations created by these technologies will soon have a very real presence in every industry — including the public sector.

The potential for AI to double economic growth rates and increase labour productivity by up to 40% has convinced most citizens of the technology’s value in the public sector. While 1 out of 3 individuals believe they don’t understand the benefits of AI well enough to judge its use in government despite the majority opinion, these citizens overwhelmingly support government collaboration with AI once educated on how AI can deliver improved services.

AI isn’t a technology of the future — it’s here now and can’t be put off until tomorrow. The sooner that government organisations embrace artificial intelligence, the sooner they will become more cost efficient and increase citizen satisfaction.

70%

of citizens want local government to explain how AI will change city life for the better

83%

of senior public sector leaders say they are both able and willing to adopt intelligent technologies

Changing the game across private and public sectors

Monumental progress has been made with AI in the private sector over the last decade. Companies like Uber and Netflix use intelligent technologies to continually raise the bar on customer service, personalization and automation. The seemingly infinite applications of AI include everything from the toppling of board games grandmasters to the prevention of fraudulent transactions via neural networks.

Meanwhile, government agencies that prioritize AI in the public sector are achieving similarly dramatic results:

  • The Singaporean government’s use of AI enables it to answer the public’s queries.
  • The deployment of AI by the UK’s Department for Work and Pensions allows it to more efficiently process incoming correspondence.
  • The US Department of Health and Human Services used AI to process thousands of public comments on regulatory proposals during a successful pilot run.

The perceived threat and the promising truth

Despite the advancements it’s created, some fear that AI poses a threat to human workers — a recent Accenture survey found that 4 in 10 citizens believe AI takes jobs away from real people.

But automating repetitive and mundane tasks with AI actually allows workers to focus on more rewarding job functions. With AI completing labour-intensive tasks, employees are freed to take on higher-value work that increases the desirability of government jobs.

How AI transformed the Forestry Industry: Count and measure each tree, organized data to create a citywide map for decision-making and resource allocation.  How AI transformed the Urban Forestry Administration in Washington DC

Taking on the responsibility behind the power

AI holds great promise, but there are challenges to overcome. To ensure public trust, it’s crucial that AI is implemented with careful consideration to avoid misuse and unintended consequences.

Government should place accountability, fairness, and transparency at the forefront when adopting AI to improve its operations and public services. By setting ethical and legislative frameworks, AI can be used safely in our communities.

The challenges of implementing AI are surmountable — and setting sensible policies will be key. We can train AI systems to produce reports that allow for greater transparency, as is already being demonstrated in a key initiative by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Responsible AI is a collective effort for government agencies to proactively address while embracing these new technologies.

Carl Ward

Group Technology Officer – Health & Public Services

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