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IBM Watson AI system replaces 34 staff at Japanese insurance firm

4TH MAY 2017

Hardly a day goes by without some story or another about robots taking over the world. When they were doing the dirty or dangerous work – digging for coal, checking on high-altitude electrical connections – the robots were welcomed by most. Now, though, they are taking on jobs which are neither dirty nor dangerous and which, it can be argued, are an increasing threat to how our world works today.

One recent example comes out of Japan where an insurance company is replacing 34 of its staff with an artificial intelligence system. The computer – at Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance – will calculate how much policyholders should be paid out. Until now, it was a job done by people but will soon be done by a computer based on IBM’s Watson Explorer, a technology which learns to think and act like a human.

According to reports in Japanese newspapers, the computer will be able to understand medical certificates and the length of hospital stays. It will also be able to understand a patient’s medical history and surgical procedures and then work out how much people should be paid.
The company reckons this switch will help them save about £1 million a year. The system itself will cost £1.4 million with annual £100,000 maintenance costs.

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