Enfield Council is to use Artificial Intelligence as part of its customer service, planned to go live in Autumn 2016.
The story is relatively straightforward in terms of innovation and positive customer experience.
But read down to the end and note the quote from the council’s opposition.
UK local authorities are facing huge financial pressure at present, so is there anything in the concerns in this article about reducing the staff numbers?
Is the opposition quote reactionary or prophetic?
Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

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Bad Robot

September 27, 2010

I was speaking to a lady the other day (an acquaintance, I guess, if people still have such things in our world of six degrees of separation) who is losing her job because the organisation she worked for is closing down.

Since it became clear she would be out of work by the end of the year she started applying for jobs in similar organisations. Times are hard in that industry (and many others) and no one is hiring.

So she turned to one of the big supermarkets, the logic being working for one of them until the current recession is over is better than the dole. I couldn’t agree more.

This has not come to pass – from the discussion I had with her, I came away with the distinct impression the supermarket was not hiring till staff because they were expecting to increase the number of self-service tills.

As a child and teenager I was an avid reader of science fiction books (and of sci-fi comics and I’d watch movies and TV shows too) and one of those ever-present themes was about machines taking away jobs from people. This would lead to anti robot uprisings amongst civilian populations and would generally create a big mess.

Robots have been present on production lines for many years (I’m fairly certain I read in an Asimov story once about robots building robots that were better than humans could ever build), but this is the first time I have actually heard someone I know say they haven’t got employment because of the robots.

This is a worrying turn of events. Computers and robots are supposed to be machines – tools – to assist us. Not workplace rivals.

When you see the cute Asimo on the the Honda ads (great ads btw, made by Wieden + Kennedy) remember one day he may be stealing your job out from under you.

I foresee the Daily Mail stopping the immigration stories and running with the robot stories instead…

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