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34 Japanese insurance claim workers lose jobs to AI

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In Japan, the future is now. Starting in January 2017, insurance company Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance is replacing 34 real-life human insurance claim workers with artificial intelligence (AI).

The employees are losing their jobs to IBM Watson Explorer, a “cognitive search and content analysis platform that gives you access to insights from all the data you care about, so you can drive business performance and growth”, according to IBM.

In the case of Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance, the AI will be used to provide insight into insurance claims submitted to the company. It will scan documents and automatically recognise and extract pertinent information such as hospital admission date, surgery date, injuries or illnesses, and more, according to a press release.

Ultimately, the final decision on the claim will still be made by human employees, who will use the information provided by Watson Explorer to come to a conclusion. However, by automising part of the data collection process the company expects to reduce the burden on its employees by about 30%, leading to the expected reduction in staff numbers.

According to The Mainichi, the 34 people are expected to be made redundant by the end of March 2017.

The news could be seen as confirmation of many HR professionals’ belief that advancements in AI and robotics will lead to substantial job losses in Asia over the next five years. However, not too long ago Facebook’s attempt to replace some of its staff with an algorithm quickly proved that in some cases it takes more than a clever computer to replace experienced human beings.

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