Robotics, artificial intelligence and other technologies of the fourth industrial revolution could provide a welcome boost to government service delivery and help reduce the ever-escalating costs of running the public service. The difficulty of course, would be dealing effectively and sensitively with the fears of trade unions and public servants that job losses could result. The fourth industrial revolution has been making its presence felt in the private sector for quite some time, from retailing, manufacturing and mining to the practice of law. Now it is also attracting increasing attention in the public service. On April 9, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the membership of the new 30-person presidential commission on the fourth industrial revolution, which he himself will chair. The role of the commission is to “assist government in taking advantage of the opportunities presented by the digital industrial revolution”, according to a brief statement from the presidency. Ta...

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