At the heart of the dispute has been the potential for new technology to make public services more efficient.
The Monday commute will not feel quite so bad this morning for millions of commuters on the stricken Southern network. On Friday the Aslef rail union paved the way for the end of the strikes that have caused such misery.
At the heart of the dispute has been the potential for new technology to make public services more efficient: Aslef has rightly accepted that technology allows train drivers to fill the roles that conductors used to play, for example by operating doors (as they have on the Docklands Light Railway since 1987).
Not every union agrees.
Mick Cash, the outspoken general secretary of the RMT, called the decision a “shocking and historical betrayal”. But the tide of history is not on Mr Cash’s side, for the issues at stake have implications far beyond the rail industry.
Last month, while commuters suffered, Jeremy Hunt announced that the NHS will work with three artificial intelligence () companies to deliver health advice over the telephone in London, Yorkshire and the West Midlands.
is improving to the level that it can understand complex areas such as medical diagnosis as well as humans can.
Meanwhile, HMRC has been able to reduce its administrative staff by a third over the past decade, with great savings to the taxpayer, thanks to its online self-assessment service. Crucially, this also means a better service: completing tax returns on the internet may not yet be exactly a joy, but it is still a huge advance on previous days of paper returns and letters lost in the post. […]