UK public open to the idea of robot politicians
politicians in Westminster be replaced by robots

UK public open to the idea of robot politicians

An OpenText study has explored the feelings of UK consumers towards artificial intelligence (AI) and robots. The findings suggest politicians could be a surprising addition to those at risk from automated services.

Rightly or wrongly, UK politicians are not held in the highest esteem by the public they serve. Scandals over expenses, unchecked nepotism, ulterior motives and outright lies have all contributed to that state of affairs. The solution has long been the ultimate accountability for anyone working in politics: elections. But a recent study from OpenText suggests a more dramatic change may be in the minds of the electorate.

Robots in government

The study, according to Information Agefound that two thirds of UK citizens think robots will be working inside parliament within the next twenty years. Sixteen percent were of the opinion that this could happen within the next one to two years.

The exact nature of the preferred robotic influx in UK politics is difficult to gauge. OpenText’s survey suggests that the public has come to accept the inevitable use of robots and artificial intelligence in government, to the extent that just over one in four (26 percent) UK citizens believe that robots would make better decisions than their elected representatives.

However, although findings suggest the public believes robots would make fewer mistakes, 16 percent would be more comfortable with humans making the final call on decisions.

Mark Bridger, VP of OpenText UK, expanded on how robots and artificial intelligence will have a big impact across various industries, not just in government.

“The digital revolution will drive an increasing reliance on self-service technology, machine to machine (M2M) communication and AI”, he said. “And there is no denying that every job in every industry will be impacted. However, while some jobs will disappear and others will change significantly, the opportunity for innovation and change is limitless.”

“AI and cognitive technologies will give organisations across all sectors, faster access to sophisticated insights, and consequently empower them to make better decisions for customers, employees and the business overall.”

Read more: Super smart robots need human rights and greater legislation, MEPs say

Admin ‘bots or economic advisors?

Survey respondents were asked by OpenText about which government functions could benefit from robots and intelligent automation technology. One in ten thought that robots would make better decisions on the economy than politicians.

But it’s when more human qualities are needed that confidence in robot decision-making begins to drop. Thirty-five percent of UK citizens did not feel as though robots would be capable of accounting for cultural aspects and context when making a policy decision.

Instead, the role of automated technology could lie in administration. One in five (20 percent) respondents thought there would be less admin and form filling as a result of introducing robot technology into government. Other potential benefits, such as reduced waiting times (24 percent) and fewer errors in government processes (19 percent) were also identified.

Read more: Foxconn replaces staff with robots; is this the future?

UK consumers open to healthcare with a digital focus

OpenText’s research also delved into UK consumers’ attitudes towards the same technology applied to healthcare. In a sector that’s much more binary than politics, it’s little surprise that there was more receptiveness toward AI and robotics.

A faster diagnosis was identified as the biggest benefit of introducing AI into healthcare, with a third of respondents believing robots would reach a conclusion faster than doctors. But it wasn’t just about speed. 25% of British consumers also thought they would get a more accurate diagnosis from AI.

Just as the same technology is bringing efficiencies to a range of industries, a quarter of UK consumers thought robot technology would help them avoid difficulties booking an appointment with a GP, or even help them avoid taking time off to visit a doctor altogether (24 percent).