Robotic workers could be coming to Britain’s National Health Service. As Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak prepares to cut NHS staff, he’s informed the institution to embrace robotics.
The third Tory PM in three years, Sunak has spoken in the past about “upgrading” Britain. Previously, prior to his time as Prime Minister, Sunak revealed plans to replace human teachers with AI in British schools.
This time, the loser of the July 2022 Tory Leadership Race believes robotics will be essential to the NHS. As the service starts to cut its total workforce by half, Sunak believes that robot workers will replace them.
Speaking in Birmingham, via The Telegraph, the PM told business managers to embrace automation. Sunak claimed he will “radically innovate” the NHS in a bid to challenge “conventional wisdom”.
"If we can get that right with more robotics and automation, then we can drive up productivity,” Sunak told business managers. “It reduces some of the pressure on labour, and creates good jobs for people.”
Sunak’s plans for additional robotics are not entirely unique. Medical robots have been slowly growing in their implementation over the last decade, especially in the past few years.
However, medical robots still have huge issues, thus their rarity inside the majority of hospitals. Even still, the AI programs backing these robots have proven to house racial and sexist biases in their datasets. Should we rely on biased robots?
Of course, we could rely on robot workers en masse for smaller tasks. For example, robot waiters could deliver pills to bedridden patients instead of human nurses.
On the other hand, robot workers still have kinks to work out even for something as simple as taking meds to tables. Recently, a video compared robot waiters in a café against a human waiter, and human workers were the clear victor.
Yes, over time, robots will become more cost efficient than humans. However, for something as serious as medicine, should robots be replacing people?