The recently announced White House meeting with executives from the largest Silicon Valley companies, scheduled for Thursday is a great opportunity for government and industry to frame the positive messages technology is poised to bring the U.S workforce.
The White House called the meeting to discuss “bold, transformational ideas” to “help ensure U.S. leadership in industries of the future.” While this type meeting could go in a myriad of directions, it could serve a start point to message how RPA, cognitive, and artificial intelligence are good for the economy and our workforce. While key topics such as search engine algorithm bias, technology taxation rules, and workforce development deserve the attention of our national leaders and businesses, intelligent automation’s impact on U.S. industry leadership should also be on the agenda.
The aspirational goal for more efficient government operations and waste reduction are not new. They were reinforced by the President’s 2018 Management Agenda and OMB M-18-23. This meeting allows all leaders involved to begin the broader national conversation on the benefits of technology advancements for both economic prosperity and personal productivity. It also provides a platform for a balanced discussion around the need for workforce reskilling in the digital era. Virtual technology has a role to play in helping employees become lifelong learners. If these leaders do not address this messaging, a largely uninformed public will perceive the push toward AI as threatening.
As a tech executive focused on improving results for federal agencies, I’ve seen the tremendous benefit gains for both sides when government agencies and technology professionals are working toward the same goals. UiPath’s Robotic Process Automation solutions for government agencies are a great example – 25 federal agencies have started using Robotic Process Automation to improve public services and reduce costs. For example, the U.S. Navy’s Naval Air Systems Command developed a robot for a repetitive, transactional task that was requiring five hours of staff time to complete. The robot is now completing the task in 11 minutes. Likewise, staff at NASA and Defense Logistics Agency have found that after implementing RPA within their agencies, that their staff are not only not fearful of RPA, but are clamoring for more. See more on NASA’s RPA implementation here.
We hear analysts say employees are afraid of job loss, yet we hear the opposite from our customers. Their employees are more than happy to hand off to the robots the drudgery of repetitive copy-and-paste screen time and document shuffling.
It is normal for a skeptical public to raise fears that robots are “coming to take our jobs” but equally as important for U.S. tech executives and politicians alike to work together to present the facts – that RPA is actually generating jobs, not taking them away, that RPA could help make jobs more meaningful and less routine.
This kind of reasoned argument might not generate headlines, but it will go a long way to helping educate the public about the realities of how their government and technology are collaborating to make their lives better.
Jim Walker is the former RPA Lead at NASA Shared Services Center in Stennis, Mississippi. He is currently Director of Public Sector Marketing for UiPath.