automatic News for 10-18-2019

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Benefits system automation could plunge claimants deeper into poverty

The UK government is accelerating the development of robots in the benefits system in a digitisation drive that vulnerable claimants fear could plunge them further into hunger and debt, the Guardian has learned. The DWP is also testing artificial intelligence to judge the likelihood that citizens’ claims about their childcare and housing costs are true when they apply for benefits. The developments emerged during a Guardian investigation into one of the most radical but least understood welfare reforms since the roll-out of universal credit that will apply to 7 million people. Key details about the automation push remain secret. The DWP has refused freedom of information requests to explain how it gathers data on citizens. 

Staff are using UiPath to develop machine learning to check claims for fraud, which suggests welfare computers will autonomously learn and alter the way they make decisions with minimum human intervention. The digital transformation is costing hundreds of millions of pounds. The DWP Digital’s budget has risen 17% to £1.1bn in the past year and IT firms have been awarded huge contracts to help run the system. The DWP is also rapidly expanding its own private technology company Benefits and Pensions Digital Technology Services, which recruited more than 400 staff in the year to April, while DWP Digital recruited 520. A spokesperson for the DWP insisted it was using AI to help people find work, to reduce the burden on claimants to prove their circumstances, and to help vulnerable people access welfare more easily without having to provide evidence of their digital identity. 

There is evidence of rising error rates in parts of the welfare system that have already been automated. A system of realtime data-sharing between the HMRC tax office and the DWP about universal credit claimants’ earnings is triggering more and more disputes, with the rate rising fourfold between May 2017 and October 2018, according to the government’s own figures, with up to 5,700 people a month affected. 

Keywords: [“DWP”,”Digital”,”automation”]

Oct. 15, 2019.In the pivotal industrial state of Ohio, which has been devastated by the announced closure of a General Motors plant, the Democratic contenders railed against automation and the trade policies of the Trump administration during Tuesday night’s debate. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said the greed of multinational corporations has chipped away at the middle class, which she vowed to strengthen with her plan to extend the solvency of Social Security and a $200 monthly benefits increase that she claimed would elevate five million families above the poverty line. The populist pitch of Senator Warren, who has made up ground on former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., came in a state that President Trump carried in 2016 and that is critical to his re-election prospects. The reason has been a bunch of giant multinational corporations who have been calling the shots on trade. 

Giant multinational corporations that have no loyalty to America. Rew Yang, the former tech executive and entrepreneur, used the issue of automation to promote his universal basic income payment plan, which he has called a freedom dividend. They see a self-serve kiosk in every grocery store, every CVS. Driving a truck is the most common job in 29 states; 3.5 million truck drivers in this country. The former housing secretary Julián Castro said the Trump administration has not delivered on its populist message in states like Ohio, where a stalemate between G.M. 

and the United Auto Workers culminated with the closure of the automaker’s Lordstown plant and the loss of 14,000 jobs. G.M. has said that Mr. Trump’s tariffs on steel, aluminum and other goods have cost the company $1 billion in profits. Neil Vigdor is a breaking news reporter on the Express Desk. 

He previously covered Connecticut politics for the Hartford Courant. 

Keywords: [“job”,”truck”,”Trump”]

Democratic debate about automation peddled myths

Productivity growth has been slowing The simple fact of the matter is that productivity growth has been slow in recent years, in both the United States and other advanced countries. Not only has growth productivity been slow, it keeps turning out to be slower than previous forecasts had expected – forcing the Congressional Budget Office to continually reduce its forecasts. The result is slow growth in the overall economy which contributes to slower growth in wages and incomes. Though candidates certainly touched on points that are related to these issues, nobody directly mentioned the growth slowdown, much less propose solutions to it. The progressive agenda doesn’t make sense without a growth agenda What candidates did talk about during the tax policy portion of the debate was inequality. 

While some progressives seem to have convinced themselves that inequality is so important that you don’t need to talk about economic growth, the truth is the exact opposite – to tackle inequality in a serious way you need to confront questions about growth. They became convinced that it would be smart to accept more inequality in hopes of sparking more growth. In the short term, Ronald Reagan’s first term did successfully break the back of inflation at the cost of a severe recession, and then bounced back quickly from the recession with incredibly rapid growth in 1984. 35 years later, we know that the post-Reagan high-inequality era has not generated sustainably faster growth than what we saw before. The economy has become more unequal, but growth has slowed. The promised growth never arrived, and people are legitimately mad about it. 

The lack of growth is a huge problem and it deserves serious solutions – including many of the kinds of specific things Democrats discussed relating to anti-trust law, labor unions, and investing in children – but to start you need to acknowledge the problem exists. 

Keywords: [“growth”,”automation”,”slow”]

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