AI chatbot for civil servants moves a step closer

An Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered civil service has moved a step closer as the Cabinet Office expands trials of its Redbox Copilot project.

The system – named after the red briefcases used by ministers to carry official papers – is designed to search and analyse government papers and rapidly summarise them into briefings.

The ultimate aim is for every civil servant in the UK to be given access to it.

Developers say civil servants will be able to use Redbox Copilot like Chat-GPT to ask questions and chat about the content of letters, briefings, minutes, speech transcripts and other internal papers.

They are exploring adding official government announcements and transcripts of proceedings in Parliament to the system in due course.

Trade unions say they are not against using AI to improve productivity but any savings should be used to increase pay rates and not cut jobs.

The trial is now being expanded to the rest of the Cabinet Office and engineers have published the Redbox “source code” to encourage collaboration with more developers.

Mr Burghart said: “From a standing start our in-house team has built a tool which can examine thousands of documents, reduce administrative work and free public servants from cumbersome tasks.

“We are still in the foothills of this work but are now expanding our trial. Ultimately, because of AI’s ability to analyse huge quantities of material, Redbox has the opportunity to provide institutional memory and learning to give us better public services.”

Fran Heathcote, general secretary of the PCS, which represents 180,000 staff across the civil service and related agencies, said her union “recognises that AI can help with productivity”.

But she added: “We will be looking to see a thorough assessment of what and where those gains might be.

“We are very clear that gains should be shared between the workers and the employers in the form of reduced hours and increased pay.”

Lauren Crowley, assistant general secretary of the FDA union which represents managers and senior ranks, welcomed new technology but said productivity should “enable proper pay rewards”.

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