Headline of the day: They’re coming for your job


From the Mainichi Shimbun:

Insurance firm to replace human workers with AI system

  • Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance Co. is planning to slash nearly 30 percent of its payment assessment department’s human staff after it introduces an artificial intelligence (AI) system in January 2017 to improve operating efficiency.
  • While concrete examples of AI systems making human workers redundant are currently rare, observers have pointed out that such cases are likely to increase.
  • The insurance firm will introduce an AI system based on IBM Japan Ltd.’s Watson, which according to IBM is a “cognitive technology that can think like a human,” and “can analyze and interpret all of your data, including unstructured text, images, audio and video.” The Watson-based system will be tasked with reading medical certificates written by doctors and other documents to collect information necessary for making payouts, such as medical histories, length of hospital stays, and surgical procedure names.
  • In addition to determining payment amounts, the system will also be able to check customers’ cases against their insurance contracts to find any special coverage clauses —a measure expected to prevent payment oversights. The type of payments the AI is expected to oversee at Fukoku Mutual totaled some 132,000 cases in fiscal 2015.
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