Top Stories

February 06, 2017


Robots ‘could replace 250,000 UK public sector workers’

Around 250,000 public sector workers could lose their jobs to robots over the next 15 years due to the potential efficiency and cost-saving benefits. Thinktank Reform says websites and artificial intelligence ‘chat bots’ could replace up to 90% of Whitehall’s administrators, as well as tens of thousands employees in the NHS and GP’s surgeries by 2030. This transition could save up to £4 billion per year for the public service economy. It is thought that artificial intelligence will be able to outperform humans at diagnoses and routine surgical procedures whilst allowing NHS employees to focus on the highest risk patients. Robots can also be used for data analytics to identify patterns whilst cognitive and strategic roles can be maintained by current public sector workers. This could improve overall decision-making. Reform argue that public services should become more flexible and accept this new technology. (The Guardian)

Corporate Reputation

Rolls-Royce faces civil service inquiry over UK state funding

Civil servants are carrying out an internal inquiry to establish whether the engineering giant Rolls-Royce fraudulently obtained financial support worth hundreds of millions of pounds from the government. Last month, the manufacturer admitted it had used multimillion-pound bribes to secure export orders across the world for over four decades. Rolls-Royce has apologised and is paying £671m in penalties after the corruption was exposed by anti-corruption investigators in the UK, US and Brazil. The internal review is being conducted by officials at the UK Export Finance (UKEF), the government’s credit agency which gives financial support to British exporters to help them win contracts around the world. The inquiry is said to be scrutinising whether Rolls-Royce complied with UKEF’s anti-bribery rules. (The Guardian)


Greenwashing costing Walmart $1 Million

Walmart has agreed to pay $1 million to settle greenwashing claims that allege the nation’s largest retailer sold plastic products that were misleadingly labelled ‘biodegradable’ or ‘compostable’ in violation of the California law. Walmart failed to comply with the state’s guidance on biodegradable labelling. The judgement prohibits Walmart from selling plastic products labelled biodegradable or with other terms implying the product will break down in landfill or any other environment. It also prohibits Walmart from selling plastic products labelled compostable unless a scientific certification supports the claim. California’s action against Walmart follows the Federal Trade Commission’s continuous crackdown on misleading environmental claims. This includes five enforcement actions that specifically address biodegradable plastic claims. (Environmental Leader)


Apple, Facebook and Google say Trump’s travel ban would hurt business

Some of Silicon Valley’s biggest brand names have joined the court fight against Trump’s executive order on immigration restrictions, warning that the restrictions could hurt the country’s economy. Nearly 100 technology companies, including Apple, Facebook and Google, have argued that Trump’s temporary ban on visitors from the seven predominantly Muslim countries would both hurt their business and violate the United States Constitution. These major technology companies, alongside Microsoft, Uber and Airbnb, are among the technology companies that submitted an amicus brief — a legal document filed by non-litigants with a strong interest in the subject — to the ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals on Sunday night. Other signatories include eBay, Spotify and Levi Strauss. The brief urges the US to make a “fundamental commitment” to welcoming immigrants, while recommending that increased background checks can adequately protect the country. (New York Times; Financial Times*)


Only 5 per cent of FTSE 100 groups have cyber risk director

A study by professional services giant Deloitte has revealed that only 5 per cent of FTSE 100 companies have disclosed having a director responsible for cyber risks. This is despite the growing fears that corporations are in danger of being hacked. The research highlighted that the majority of FTSE 100 reports are acknowledging cyber risks. In total, 71 per cent of the corporations identified IT systems failure as a principle concern and 72 per cent identified a cyber-attack as a risk. Unauthorised access to systems ranked as the most common type of cyber-attack disclosed as a threat in the study, closely followed by hacking. Despite this, the report indicates there are variations in the disclosure of cyber risk management and mitigation strategies. More than half of companies mentioned cyber contingency, crisis management or disaster recovery plans in their annual report. However, only 58 per cent disclosed that these plans had been simulated in test scenarios over the year. (Financial Times*)

Image source: Vintage Toys, Mint Museum of Toys, Singapore at Flickr website. Some rights reserved;