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BizReport : Trends & Ideas archives : January 06, 2017

AI to replace Japanese insurance workers

Artificial intelligence has caused concerns about job losses and, while such technology replacing workers is currently rare, it is certainly happening, as news out of Japan illustrations.

by Helen Leggatt

Last year (October, 2016) a group of 10 MPs in the UK that make up the Science and Technology Select Committee issued a warning in its report, 'Robotics and Artificial Intelligence', that not enough is being to do prepare for the social and ethical issues that will arise from robotics and artificial intelligence.

"Concerns about machines 'taking jobs' and eliminating the need for human labor have persisted for centuries," said Dr. Tania Mathias, interim chair of the Committee and a Conservative MP. "Nevertheless it is conceivable that we will see AI technology creating new jobs over the coming decades while at the same time displacing others."

News this week from Japan shows that reality of artificial intelligence replacing jobs may be closer than we think.

Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance is replacing 34 workers from a team of 47 with artificial intelligence based on IBM's Watson technology. The cognitive system capable of thinking "like a human" and process structured and unstructured text, as well as images, video and audio. The insurance firm will use the technology to read documents that contain information relating to payouts, such as medical certificates, details on hospital stays and lists of expenses that need to be reimbursed.

According to The Mainichi, a national newspaper in Japan, "While concrete examples of AI systems making human workers redundant are currently rare, observers have pointed out that such cases are likely to increase".

To Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance, the move to AI makes financial sense. While it will cost 200 million yen (US$1.7million) to install, with around 15 million yen (US$130,000) annually for maintenance, "it's expected that Fukoku Mutual will save about 140 million yen [(US$1.2million)] per year by cutting the 34 staff" says The Mainichi.

Tags: artificial intelligence, insurance, technology

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