THINK AI for Public Sector 2017

A new and vital addition to the THINK portfolio.

Date: Wednesday 20 September 2017
Venue: One Great George Street, Westminster, London SW1P 3AA


  • AI offers the potential to automate layers upon layers of manual processes within the Civil Service, which could not only make government more efficient, but also support the efficiency agenda.
  • How citizens interact with government services could be transformed through the use of AI technologies.
  • The technology is new and there are a multitude of concerns. What does increased automation mean for the future of the workforce?
  • According to Deloitte and University of Oxford, AI and robotics could take £17bn off the public sector wage bill as more than 850,000 jobs could be lost by 2030.
  • As a core agenda item on the Prime Minister’s Industrial Strategy, a deeper exploration of the issues surrounding this vital topic could not be more timely.
  • This conference should be attended by IT and policy decision makers throughout the public sector who want to understand more about the challenges and opportunities AI will bring, both in terms of technical deployment and political/societal governance. 

Supported by

Diamond Partners


09:30 - 09:50

Registration & Networking

09:50 - 09:55

Chair’s Opening Remarks

  • Stuart Lauchlan, Editor & Co-founder,
09:55 - 10:25

Keynote Address - AI and the impact on the public sector

Top level overview of the potential of AI in the public sector, within the context of the Prime Minister’s Industrial Strategy and the recently announced Digital Strategy from DCMS. The Industrial Strategy notes “there are new or growing industries like artificial intelligence…where the UK has a real competitive advantage”.  What can the government to support industry’s efforts to harness AI software? What are the benefits for the Civil Service? Manual processes still weigh down Whitehall and sustain a significant amount of cost. AI has the promise of not only automating these processes, but advising civil servants what tasks are of the highest priority.

Equally, departments are struggling to deal with requests from the general public for services – you only have to look at HMRC’s call centre woes. Chat bots are increasingly able to provide human-like advice and feed information directly into processes, which can be later dealt with by a human when necessary. This improves the experience for the user and the government.

But what does that mean for the future shape of the Civil Service? Are job losses inevitable? And how can government introduce AI safely, without concern from the general public? Are there risks?

  • Geoff Mulgan CBE, Chief Executive, Nesta
10:25 - 10:55

Government, AI and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The World Economic Forum writes: “The possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, are unlimited. And these possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing.”

Essentially, the lines between people and technology are becoming blurred. The challenge is, how can we take advantage of the efficiencies that the fourth industrial revolution will bring, without further increasing inequality? Not only this, government’s role will be impacted by the increased competition that the revolution brings. How can government stay competitive? It’s survival depends on it. What can government do to make sure that its policy still has an impact?

  • Alan Mak MP, Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Fourth Industrial Revolution
  • Stuart Lauchlan, Editor & co-founder,
10:55 - 11:15

Enfield and Amelia - our AI journey

Conversation has been tipped to be the next evolution in digital user interfaces. Services that would typically be delivered by speaking to someone in person, or through the use of an application, will now be delivered by helpful AI-driven chatbots. Although still in the early phases of development, Enfield Council recognises how conversation could help deliver citizen services at a local level in a more intuitive way. Equally, by blending chatbots with its physical support function, the Council believes that significant savings can be made. 

  • Mike Bobbett, Senior Consultant for Digital Transformation and AI, London Borough of Enfield
11:15 - 11:30

Digital Dialogues

As AI moves into the mainstream, it’s transforming every business and every industry, including government. Citizens who are accustomed to getting a taxi with one click and automated online ordering are looking to receive the same level of service from government agencies. In this fireside chat, James Lee-Smith, Head of UK Public Sector for Salesforce will discuss the opportunity for public sector agencies to meet and anticipate citizen needs using AI; how organisations around the world are making use of the technology to transform their business; and why now is the time for the public sector to harness the power of AI.

  • James Lee-Smith, Head of UK Public Sector, Salesforce
11:30 - 11:50


11:50 - 12:20

Sir Humphrey and the robots

Reform predicts that almost 250,000 public sector workers could lose their jobs to robots over the next 15 years. Governments around the world have recognised the potential of AI, but in practice actual application varies widely. How does the government move from piecemeal application of AI to wholesale? And what is the framework for the ethical application of AI for citizen services?

  • Eleonora Harwich, Senior Researcher, Reform Think Tank
12:20 - 12:40

Aylesbury Vale - 100% cloud and making use of Amazon's Alexa

Aylesbury Vale District Council has a comprehensive digital strategy that has helped the organisation save millions of pounds over the past five years. As well as operating almost entirely in the cloud, the Council also delivers online services that now generate income – which has proven to be necessary in an environment of consistent central government budget cuts. Aylesbury Vale is now also looking at how it can make use of the Amazon Echo AI interface to deliver citizen services, to both provide a better customer experience, but to also help cut down on costs. 

  • Andrew Grant, Chief Executive, Aylesbury Vale District Council
  • Maryvonne Hassall, Digital Strategy Lead, Aylesbury Vale District Council
12:40 - 12:55

Digital Dialogue - AI is my friend: A practical view for the public sector

In an evolving landscape of resident services, public sector contact centres are in a position to decide which technologies they will use to stay ahead of the increasing text-based message volumes and shortening expected response times. Existing contact centre systems can combine the best of human and machine intelligence to shore up the technological side of resident relations while maintaining and improving public sector jobs. In this fireside chat, Chris Kellner will evaluate how local councils in the UK are already deploying this technology to optimise communications with their residents. The audience will walk away with a deeper understanding of the importance of artificial intelligence and how to implement relevant technology to enhance the quality and speed of their communication processes.

  • Chris Kellner, Head of Sales & Strategic Partnerships EMEA, DigitalGenius
12:55 - 13:40


13:40 - 13:45

Chair’s Afternoon Remarks

  • Stuart Lauchlan, Editor & Co-founder,
13:45 - 14:15

The AI Revolution: where is Britain’s strategic ambition?

By 2025, all UK sectors and places must be fit for the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution – everything from driverless cars, smart energy, health care to finance and social housing. A long period of adjustment with systems that co-habit is very unsafe. It is also more expensive to run two systems than one. To discuss what this will mean, Professor Andersen is set to discuss the practical aspects of the coming era of ‘data capitalism’ and UK public services, and the changes in policy and regulation this may require.

  • Professor Birgitte Andersen, CEO, Big Innovation Centre, Secretariat, All-Party Parliamentary Group on AI
14:15 - 14:45

Societal impact of AI - the need for government leadership

The implementation of AI without any thought for the future consequences could be disastrous for the UK. Without ethical frameworks and a plan for how we want AI to work for us – rather than us working for AI – we are heading into dangerous territory.

Artificial Intelligence has the potential to displace huge amounts of workers. So what do we do about that? The idea of a Universal Basic Income has been touted by many as the solution, but faces obvious blockers in terms of government policy. Is it the way forward? What are the risks?

Equally, how can we ensure that privacy and security are still top of the agenda? AI, given its potential to act autonomously, makes the general public feel uneasy and there are many security concerns. Can government policy guide how its developed and used?

  • Stephen Metcalfe MP, Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on AI
  • Tim Page, Senior Policy Officer, Trades Union Congress
  • Jessica Figueras, Chief Analyst, GlobalData Public Sector
14:45 - 15:15


Register for THINK AI for Public Sector 2017