- Around 30 specialists from across tech industry and academia to be assembled
A ‘crack’ squad of artificial intelligence experts will be brought in by the Government to tackle benefit fraud, asylum backlogs and the bloated civil service, the deputy prime minister has announced.
Around 30 specialists from across the tech industry and academia are being assembled to work out how best to use the latest AI, such as ChatGPT, to save taxpayers’ money.
With a budget of £5million mostly going towards the ‘competitive salaries’ on offer, the team members will work to improve productivity in key areas such as healthcare, welfare and immigration.
The plans will also likely cause ‘significant’ job cuts within the civil service – which has a vast headcount of nearly half a million officials – particularly in administrative jobs.
Oliver Dowden said: ‘I genuinely think it’s the closest thing you have to a silver bullet in terms of driving efficiency for the taxpayer.’
Around 30 specialists from across the tech industry and academia are being assembled to work out how best to use the latest AI, such as ChatGPT, to save taxpayers’ money (Stock Image)
Oliver Dowden (pictured) said: ‘I genuinely think it’s the closest thing you have to a silver bullet in terms of driving efficiency for the taxpayer’
Highlighting how some officials wasted at least one working day a week catching up with paperwork, he added: ‘The potential productivity benefits from applying these technologies to routine tasks across the public sector are estimated to be worth billions.’
Britain is vying to be seen as a world-leader in AI, having recently hosted a summit at Bletchley Park with world leaders and tech giants focused on how to protect the world against the technology’s ‘catastrophic’ potential.
But, speaking at an ‘upskilling’ event for civil servants yesterday, Mr Dowden said that ‘as well as the huge risks, there are also enormous opportunities, particularly for the public sector to transform productivity’.
He revealed the government had begun recruiting a ‘crack squad’ of experts to help apply the latest publicly available and open-source AI models to public services.
The team will deal with the ‘big challenges’, including helping in the early stages of immigration cases, rooting out benefit cheats and streamlining the way patients’ data is processed between the doctor’s surgery, the pharmacy and hospital.
Britons would no longer find themselves frustrated by delays or difficulties with public officials, Mr Dowden said, turning it from a culture of ‘computer says no’ to ‘computer says yes’.
He said AI it would also ‘transform productivity’ among civil servants who so often found themselves ‘stifled by systems, bogged down by bureaucracy, peeved by processes that haven’t changed in decades’.
It would give the public ‘more for less’, he said, and would likely be a ‘significant downward driver’ on the numbers of officials needed, adding that AI already had the ‘capability to do the vast amount of what administrative assistants are doing’.
Last month, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced the civil service – which at 488,000 officials is 66,000 higher than pre-pandemic levels – would be capped until this number could be brought down.
Speaking at the Tory party conference, he said it would save £1billion over the next year and would not be lifted until there was a ‘proper plan’ in place to improve productivity.