Bots steal jobs: Japanese firm replaces workers with AI

3 Jan 2017

AI is being used to replace 34 workers at Japanese insurance firm Fukoku Mutual. Image: Victor H/Shutterstock

The bots are already taking jobs – in Japan, that is. Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance is to replace 30pc of its existing workforce with AI based on IBM’s Watson technology.

In a sign of what’s to come, the Japanese company will use IBM’s Watson Explorer to read medical certificates from doctors and other documents to collect information necessary to making payout decisions.

Other data being assessed by the IBM Watson technology – “ a cognitive technology that can analyse and interpret all of your data” – include medical histories, previous hospital stays and surgical procedures.

This work had previously been done by 131 employees in the payment-assessment department, according to Japan’s daily newspaper The Mainichi.

AI don’t believe it

The team typically worked on over 132,000 cases a year.

While final decisions will be made by a human team, the AI system will be used to make procedures more efficient.

It is expected that 34 people will be made redundant at the end of March, saving Fukoku Mutual about 140m yen per year.

The AI system by comparison will cost 200m yen ($1.7m) to install and 15m yen ($128,000) to run annually.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years