Chapter 22: The rise of robots in the COVID-19 pandemic: implications for public management
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While robots and automation technologies in public services are not new, we saw a significant expansion of the use of these within the COVID-19 pandemic. Robots cannot contract COVID-19 or transmit it so they were seen as having the potential to restrict the need for person-to-person contact and slow the spread of COVID-19 as well as fill some workforce gaps where individuals are unable to work. While there are a number of positives here, the use of robots is not without challenges and it raises a number of practical and ethical challenges. In this chapter we explore how robots have been used in the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges that their use may raise for public management and public managers. In this chapter we focus on three areas, policy capacity, workforce implications and ethics.

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