Enfield Council will pioneer the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in a public sector workplace by partnering with IPsoft to deploy the firm's Amelia cognitive customer service agent.
Amelia uses cognitive computing and natural language analysis to understand context or queries, apply logic to questions, learn from experience and resolve problems. The system can also sense emotions, according to IPsoft.
The AI will be used to help Enfield residents locate information and complete standard applications, and simplify some of the council’s internal processes.
Amelia will provide self-certification for planning and authenticate applications for permits and licences when it is put into operation in the autumn.
Rob Leak, chief executive at Enfield Council, explained that Amelia will improve the council’s ability to deliver services without having to recruit new staff.
“This is a very exciting opportunity to deliver better services to residents without increasing costs,” he said.
Frank Lansink, European chief executive at IPsoft, hinted that the company could pursue more public sector deployments of Amelia in the near future as more demands are put on government organisations already struggling with budget cuts.
“With the rise of powerful cognitive platforms such as Amelia, government organisations have an opportunity to completely reimagine how frontline public services are delivered,” he said.
“Organisations can unlock significant cost efficiencies as routine, high-volume tasks are automated and, more excitingly, unlock the full creative potential of their people.”
The use of Amelia in the public sector is indicative of the digital transformations underway at such organisations to boost the way they operate and deliver services. It also heralds the beginning of an era where robots start to replace human workers.
This is not new, given that there are fully automated AI-powered coffee shops in London, but Amelia's use in a public sector organisation shows that AI can replace, or at least work alongside, human workers in a sector that has traditionally been reticent to adopt cutting-edge technology.
Such situations could raise concerns that robot systems will force human workers out of a job, but automation has done this before on assembly lines in the manufacturing industry, for example.
And in many cases the working environment for humans has simply evolved with the creation of new jobs that AIs and robots cannot perform.
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