Are we prepared for the looming technological revolution?

By Adam Lent | 13 September 2017

Elysium is a big star sci-fi action movie from 2013, which even its director admitted was pretty mediocre. But in among the one-dimensional characters and gore-filled explosions there is one short scene that stands out. Sent to see his parole officer, the petty criminal played by Matt Damon is confronted by a decrepit ventriloquist’s dummy powered by some deeply unempathetic artificial intelligence. Sensing hostility, the dummy asks if Damon’s character would prefer to speak to a human. It’s an offer that our hero hastily turns down, clearly aware that such an escalation would not end well.

Elysium may be set in 2154 but the sort of technology it envisions is barely a few years away. A recent study found that the so-called Govtech market in the UK is already worth £6.6bn and predicted that it could reach £20bn within the next decade.

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