In Japan, the future is now. A Japanese insurance company has begun to trade some of their “white collar” employees for an IBM artificial intelligence.
Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance will use IBM’s “Watson Explorer” in the first days of 2017 to replace 34 of its insurance claim workers. According to their press release, the AI will consider injuries and their treatment, the patient’s medical history, as well as the hospital records themselves to determine insurance payouts. In their official press release, they claim that automating this process will expedite service to their customers, increasing productivity by 30%.
According to Japanese news outlet The Mainichi, Fukoku will spend $1.7 million installing the service and $128,000 per year in maintenance. Even so, they’ll manage to save $1.1 million per year in employee salaries. Within two years, it will presumably have paid for itself.
It’s music to the ears of companies looking to cut out the cost and fallibility of mere mortals, and according to The Mainichi, it’s a strategy that several other companies are investigating for their own use. The Harvard Business Review believes that moves like this are the first of many. Still, it’s not going to happen overnight. In their words:
Almost all jobs have major elements that—for the foreseeable future—won’t be possible for computers to handle. And yet, we have to admit that there are some knowledge-work jobs that will simply succumb to the rise of the robots.
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