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Regulation and efficiency has ‘crowded out’ human kindness in public policy

A new report from the Carnegie UK Trust has argued that public bodies and policy must be more open, fair, and responsive to emotion and human connection, arguing that focusing on emotional intelligence is just as importance as investing in AI technologies.

Julia Unwin CBE recently wrote for PSE to raise the issue of kindness in public policy and how advancements in technology could hamper this in the future.

The report, ‘Kindness, emotions and human relationships: The blind spot in public policy,’ argues that focusing heavily on regulation and efficiency has “crowded out” kindness; and that the challenges facing public policy requires an approach “more centred on human relationships.”

A survey carried out as part of the research found that a majority of people were experiencing kindness in their communities and public service. It did however highlight a number of variables: e.g. 42% said they ‘strongly’ experience kindness with using GP services, but only 22% said the same for using public transport.

It also found a noticeable regional variation, with just 25% in the capital feeling they were treated with kindness by their GP, compared to 58% in the south-west.

Julia Unwin commented: “During the last two years I’ve had the privilege of being supported by Carnegie UK Trust to explore the role of kindness in public policy, through a series of roundtables, speaking and writing. This allowed me to consider the valid and important obstacles which are preventing us from thinking and behaving differently.

“Kindness is an issue of concern, not just for those working in communities, but also for those with power and authority. It has also convinced me that this is a question of urgency.

“With investments in technology and artificial intelligence transforming the world at speed, it is imperative that we focus equally on our emotional intelligence.”

Martyn Evans of the Carnegie UK Trust said: “There are clear risks to engaging in a discussion on re-designing public policy to better respond to our need for kindness, emotions and human relationships.

“However, the clear message from this report is that the risks of not engaging are far higher. As Julia concludes, if there is no creative response to the challenge to allow space for kindness in public policy discussions “the results would be disastrous for us all.”


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