"Abundant potential remains untapped, waiting to be harnessed."
Generative Artificial Intelligence (GAI) expertise gives us abundant potential, but why are we not fully using it? Now is the time for the public sector to invest in upskilling its workforce, ensuring that public services can match private sector GAI innovation. We at Developing People Serving the Supply Chain (DPSS Consultants) are committed to supporting the public sector as it moves in the right direction -- the ongoing process of GAI. This article explains what is behind the need for change.
GAI’s primary benefit is its capability to handle vast volumes of data rapidly and precisely. This big data1 proficiency can pave the way for better-informed decision making and enhance the overall provision of public services.
GAI can generate text, images, or other media; learn the patterns and structure of the input data, then generate original and new data possessing similar characteristics. GAI uses prompt engineering -- the process of structuring sentences so that they can be interpreted and understood by a GAI model -- to match its output with a user's intentions. (A prompt can describe a desired output such as a scope of work for constructing a school or delivering a contract for training services.)
Furthermore, GAI can recognize patterns and trends that might escape human observation, enabling individuals to take proactive steps in addressing issues before they reach a critical point.
Consider ChatGPT's potential to support governmental tasks by furnishing prompt and precise responses to frequently asked questions. ChatGPT2 is now a popular open-source GAI program, freely available to contract and commercial managers in the public sector.
This innovative technology can seamlessly blend into government and local authority websites and applications to create a streamlined and user-friendly platform for the public to access information about public services, laws, regulations, and various other subjects – all of which can go beyond the limited responses of traditional systems.
Numerous real-life scenarios showcase how governments globally employ artificial intelligence. A notable illustration lies in the Smart City initiative executed in Barcelona, Spain.3 wherein intelligent sensors are deployed to track traffic flow, pollution levels, and energy usage within the city. This data equips policymakers with insights to enact measures aimed at curbing the city's carbon emissions and enhancing the overall well-being of its residents.
Another scenario involves the application of AI to unearth fraud within social programs like Brazil’s Bolsa Família.4 The Brazilian government harnesses AI to sift through vast volumes of data, detecting irregularities within beneficiaries’ registrations. This proactive approach ensures that resources are channelled to those genuinely in need, optimizing the effectiveness of the program.
And within the realm of healthcare, Singapore's government has introduced an AI framework designed to oversee the well-being of elderly patients within their residences. This system empowers healthcare practitioners to swiftly respond during emergencies or detect potential red flags before crises emerge. Singapore's government further harnesses GAI’s prowess to enhance the management of traffic and public transportation. This encompasses scrutinizing data from traffic sensors to pinpoint instances of congestion and fine-tune signal timings, thereby optimizing traffic flow. 5
Locally (in the UK), the National Health Service (NHS)6 is leveraging GAI technology to streamline the evaluation of scans for individuals diagnosed with prostate cancer. The procedure involves an automated system that processes scan images. Importantly, patient data remains confidential because all scans undergo a process to make them anonymous. The prostate within the image is delineated, tumours are identified and highlighted, and a comprehensive report is generated. This innovative approach has led to a much faster delivery of prostate cancer treatment.
Additionally, AI technology is used for examining scans of patients with suspected coronary heart disease.7 This involves the developing an individualized three-dimensional representation of the heart to reveal insights into blood circulation patterns. Such insights enable medical professionals to identify regions where blood flow is impeded by blockages. AI analysis proves significantly more economical and less resource-intensive compared to the conventional angiogram technique, which entails injecting dye into the heart to assess restricted blood flow. Remarkably, this GAI-driven approach can cut up to one fourth of all associated costs .
GAI is also aiding general practitioners (GPs) and nurses in assessing symptoms, and risk factors during patient consultations. Its capability helps to earlier identify patients who might be at risk of developing cancer. Furthermore, the tool assists in pinpointing the appropriate referrals and investigations that the patient may require for further evaluation.
Gains and pitfalls – human interactions
Artificial intelligence's role in public service comes with both advantages and cautions. Amidst the promising outcomes, certain hazards and human constraints can arise. A prominent concern revolves around algorithmic bias, wherein lies the risk of possible unjust or discriminatory judgments. This stems from the very fact that algorithms are crafted by humans -- meaning any inherent biases from the programmers could infiltrate to the algorithm's design.
In addition, artificial intelligence is susceptible to hacking or manipulation, leading to substantial harm to people’s security and privacy. Such a scenario might unfold if a malicious party manages to breach a GAI system that governs sensitive personal data, like health records or financial information, thus jeopardizing the confidentiality of this data.
Another constraint arises from relying heavily on GAI to make critical decisions. While AI excels at streamlining tasks and detecting issues, it doesn't replace human discernment and, at times, may hinder the exercise of well-informed and contextually nuanced decision-making.
We need policies, governance.
To address these potential dangers and boundaries, it becomes crucial to institute well-defined policies and regulations governing the application of GAI within the public sector. The objective here is to uphold principles of transparency, accountability, and equity in decisions influenced by GAI-generated data. Furthermore, safeguarding data privacy and security emerges as a paramount concern, along with championing ethical considerations when creating and implementing GAI systems.
Looking ahead, we can anticipate a heightened fusion of AI within the public sector, as governments pursue their goal of enhanced efficiency and efficacy in public service provision. This trajectory could encompass expanded AI use in functions like law enforcement, emergency response, and environmental stewardship.
The adoption of AI within the public sector holds substantial advantages yet is accompanied by noteworthy risks and constraints. It is of paramount importance to contemplate these elements while AI systems are being deployed, and to undertake measures ensuring the responsible and ethical use of this technology.
The most urgent concern within the public sector, per a recent study, surrounds digital proficiency lacking within the UK civil service. This deficiency was particularly obvious during the pandemic and is strongly inadequate in the GAI and data management skills possessed by public sector personnel. Currently, commercial organizations fiercely compete for GAI expertise and prioritize the attraction of talent. But this trend demands resources and funding which create challenges for public sector organizations with more constrained budgets.
When embracing GAI, the hurdles are not confined to technical aspects alone. The pursuit of multi-disciplinary expertise—encompassing data specialists, GAI practitioners, ethicists, project managers, and domain experts—presents a formidable obstacle for departments interested in delving into GAI. This challenge extends beyond the scarcity of core technical skills. Even within strategic non-technical roles across the public sector, an awareness gap concerning GAI and data is apparent.
Despite the government's substantial investments in developing the next generation via educational institutions, a significant void in GAI expertise continues to impact the public sector. Regrettably, the talent reservoir in this field in the UK is woefully insufficient to satisfy the government's ambitious ten-year AI aspirations to be a global frontrunner. This shortfall makes the case for nurturing internal skills more pivotal for a sustainable GAI talent strategy.
The absence of requisite GAI expertise within the public sector currently does not indicate an insurmountable barrier; rather, it presents an opportunity for cultivation. Abundant potential within the sector remains untapped, waiting to be harnessed.
Now is the time for the public sector to invest in up skilling its workforce, ensuring that public services can match private sector GAI innovation. We are committed to support the public sector in this developmental process. To that end we have designed two courses. One (1) day Introduction to GAI and more advanced 2 days Harnessing the power of GAI. Details can be found on our website www.dpss.co.uk.
To hear a video discussion on GAI, click on Ray’s and Chris’ recording.
- Big data Wikipedia definition
- Should we be worried – European Union regulating use of artificial intelligence? CEJ article 31 July. 2023
- Commentary: Open Edition Journal article: Barcelona’s Smart City vision: an opportunity for transformation Josep-Ramon Ferrer
- IDP article re: cash transfer program
- Infocom Media article Model Artificial Intelligence Governance Framework, Second Edition
- NHS AI Lab UK
- Definition from National Library of Medicine
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Dr Ray Carter MA, WorldCC Fellow, UK Licensed Paralegal, Director of Developing People Serving the Supply Chain (DPSS Consultants)
Dr Ray is an international training and development consultant. He began his management career in the public sector and thereafter for a large food manufacturer in the UK. He graduated from university with a master’s degree in Management Studies. Dr Ray is also a UK licenced contract management paralegal and IACCM Advanced Practitioner… His first book relating to supply chain management entitled Integrated Materials Management, was published in 1982 and has become a recommended text for a number of courses, including the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply. This was followed by Stores and Physical Distribution, published by Liverpool Academic Press. Practical Procurement was published by Cambridge Academic Publishing and was followed by “Practical Contract Management” and “Practical Contract and Commercial Negotiations”. His latest title is “Practical Supplier Selection and Relationship Management” published in 2020.
Chris Wilson DPSS Consultants Resident GAI Expert and Prompt Engineer
Chris is a seasoned commercial management professional with a reputation for effective communication. He has an impressive ability to adapt those skills to new technologies, his special interest is the application GAI and ChatGPT. Chris has an international background spanning Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Germany, and the United States, Chris has honed his expertise in navigating diverse cultural landscapes… Drawing from over 25 years of experience in the print and digital publishing industry, Chris has collaborated with renowned publishers such as The Economist, News Week, Asia Pacific Boating, China Boating, Asia Maritime Digest, Lloyd’s List Maritime Asia, Lloyd’s List Newspaper, and Time Inc. He has played a pivotal role establishing long term advertising sales contracts with ING, Renault, Nestle, Foster’s, Bacardi, Hewlett Packard, Proctor and Gamble, Rolls Royce, Aston Martin, BMW, Mercedes, Rolex, Coca Cola, and McDonald's. Chris’ adaptable approach ensures that he remains at the forefront of industry trends, in an ever-evolving business landscape.
For over 25 years DPSS Consultants have been offering effective contract management, procurement, supply chain training and consultancy services ranging from competency development and training needs analysis to bespoke training and development solutions. DPSS’s international reputation for quality, professionalism and innovation offers experience with large and small training projects in the UK, USA, Far East, Europe, the Gulf and South America.