Five: Precautionary Measures

The three systems we have explored in this book barely scratch the surface of automation in government immigration systems. They are systems which have, for various reasons and through various means, come into public view. But automated systems are being developed and deployed in many more corners of the immigration bureaucracy. The current trajectory, both in the UK and around the world, is toward increasingly automated immigration systems.

From the transitional and experimental phase that we are currently in, it is clear that automated immigration systems can bring benefits. For example, automation has allowed millions of people to get their status under the EU Settlement Scheme quicker than would have otherwise been possible, reducing delay and associated anxiety. These systems also seem to have some success in reducing decision-making costs. However, automated systems also pose clear and real risks of failure. These failures can occur, and have already occurred, at both individual and systemic levels, with disastrous effects for individuals and their families, as well as wider society and the economy. The resultant harms must be taken seriously, and certainly more seriously than the Home Office appears to have taken them to this point.

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