AI could help reimagine the state, Tony Blair says in report

AI could make many of the government's daily tasks better, faster and cheaper, report says

Production staff on the weekly fashion magazine, 'Grazia' edit the magazine in London. Getty Images
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Artificial intelligence could save the UK government £200 billion ($253bn) of taxpayers’ money over five years, according to a report from Sir Tony Blair’s think tank and leading technology firm Faculty.

An “AI mission control” should be established in 10 Downing Street by Rishi Sunak or Keir Starmer inside the first 100 days of their new government as the technology could transform public services, the report said.

The report recommends that the UK government establishes its own AI capability, which could be used on national security and sensitive tasks.

Existing AI tools could be used to improve public services by reducing bed occupancy in the NHS, processing Personal Independence Payment claims and reduce teachers’ overtime by assisting with marking and lesson planning.

Faculty CEO Marc Warner, who played a key role in developing the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, co-authored a foreword to the report with former prime minister Sir Tony.

“The scope and scale of change will be vast. And it will come quickly," they said.

Stressing the need for action, the pair warned that “a failure to modernise, reform and deliver is a perilous course for a nation and those who govern it” but AI “if gripped properly” should make it an “exciting and creative time to govern”.

The AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park - in pictures

AI could help “reimagine the state”, they said.

“Many of the countless daily tasks in government are repeatable processes carried out on a mass scale.

“Almost all of these can be made better, faster and cheaper.”

With the potential for £40 billion-a-year savings, they said: “At a time when government is unwieldy, expensive and slow, AI can save our public services, making them more personalised and human-centric.”

The paper recommends creating a “digital public assistant” that would recommend eligible services, simplify applications and payments for the public and provide informed advice to government based on the input from citizens.

A multidisciplinary AI support team could streamline civil servants’ work, cut repetitive administrative tasks and free them up for tasks that better suit their skills and dedication.

A “national policy twin” could be used at every stage of the development of new policies, including modelling different scenarios and their impacts.

Meanwhile, the government will open a new office of the AI Safety Institute in San Francisco this summer, its first overseas outpost.

“This expansion represents British leadership in AI in action," Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan said.

“It is a pivotal moment in the UK’s ability to study both the risks and potential of AI from a global lens, strengthening our partnership with the US and paving the way for other countries to tap into our expertise as we continue to lead the world on AI safety. “

Updated: May 19, 2024, 11:01 PM