Japanese Company Is Replacing Its Staff With Artificial Intelligence

Insurance firm Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance is making 34 employees redundant and replacing them with IBM’s Watson Explorer AI

A future in which human workers are replaced by machines is about to become a reality at an insurance firm in Japan, where more than 30 employees are being laid off and replaced with an artificial intelligence system that can calculate payouts to policyholders.

Fukoku Mutual Life said it expects the $1.73 million smart system which costs around $129,000 each year to maintain to save the company about $1.21 million each year.

Citing the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper, the report says that Fukoku Mutual's AI would be able to read large quantities of medical documents and consider other relevant factors as it calculates the payout amount for each policy claimed but the actual payment still requires approval from a human staffer.

While the use of AI will drastically reduce the time needed to calculate Fukoku Mutual's payouts which reportedly totalled 132,000 during the current financial year the sums will not be paid until they have been approved by a member of staff, the newspaper said.

Dai-Ichi Life Insurance has already introduced a Watson-based system to assess payments - although it has not cut staff numbers - and Japan Post Insurance is interested in introducing a similar setup, the Mainichi said.


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