Should Government Employees Worry About Being Replaced by Robots?

Should Government Employees Worry About Being Replaced by Robots?

Gov CIO Outlook | Friday, November 15, 2019

It seems that the government is planning to facilitate robot employees to perform higher tasks. Is the scenario of robots replacing humans near?

FREMONT, CA: Many famous scientists like Elon Musk and late Stephen Hawking said that artificial intelligence and robotic bodies would eventually result at the end of the world or end of the human civilization. However, it is still a theory. It is difficult to say that robots can destroy human civilization at the present time.

Though in the short term, there is a chance that ArtificiaI Intelligence and robotics might advance to a point where robots will take the place of humans, and people will be put out of work. According to researchers, already half of all job fields include susceptible employees that can be replaced anytime by AI or robotics by 2026. Those studies also suggest that new robotic employees will more harshly affect traditionally female-dominated fields.

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The government, however, is adopting a careful approach designed to utilize robotics and automation to elevate people, better jobs rather than eliminating them entirely. Right now, this is what they are planning.

Presently, 20 federal agencies have employed one of the lowest levels of robotics in their staff, which is called robotic process automation or RPA. Most investments are being made by the General Services Administration, who are planning to increase 10 RPA systems to 25 by the end of the year. However, these RPA systems are not entirely true AIs or advanced in terms of robotics. There are more similar to old-school expert systems but can still do repetitive work accurately and with high speed.

Right now, the objective of the government is to facilitate its robot workers to higher tasks. For that purpose, it needs to develop intelligent process automation or IPA. The responsibilities of an IPA system are much more similar to those performed by the non-intelligent RPAs. However, there is an exception that IPAs can derive knowledge from their environment, make some level of judgment call if something falls outside its programmed parameters, and remember those decisions if they are correct.

The objective of the new advanced government robots will not be to substitute humans. However, that will happen in certain cases, but instead to elevate them out of the jobs where they don’t have any future.

The government has been instructed to do just that as per Management Agenda of President, which stipulates that government employees, wherever possible, should be elevated from menial roles to higher-value tasks. Employing either RPA or the IPA system can accomplish that by filling in and taking on the critical, low-value tasks that will be abandoned by humans. It is just that the IPA systems can extend the definition of a menial work a little bit more towards the high end, promoting or displacing more humans, based on how one wants to look at it.

It is a good thing that the government is noticing the impact of AI and robotics on humans, especially the enhanced efficiencies that IPA systems can offer. It will be good if the government will take a balanced approach and promote workers who have proven their reliability and skills by doing drudge work to greater level tasks in a similar field. Also, the agencies will enhance operations even more in the long term.

If everything goes according to the plan, people will not complain about the robot replacing them and taking their jobs, at least in the government sector. Rather, they might find themselves bragging about a robot that took the responsibility of their old, crappy job, thus paved the path for their promotion.

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