AI Replaces Humans Inside A Japanese Insurance Office

Thursday, 05 January 2017 - 8:16PM
Artificial Intelligence
Thursday, 05 January 2017 - 8:16PM
AI Replaces Humans Inside A Japanese Insurance Office
Fukoku Mutual Life, a Japanese medical insurance company, published a press release detailing its plans to introduce artificial intelligence software into its payment assessment-related department. The department currently has 131 employees, and has already begun reductions to make way for its new ones. 34 employees will be replaced by the end of March 2017, but, to soften the blow a little, no one is actually getting fired because of a robot - the company will simply allow their contracts to expire without asking them to renew. 

But Fukoku Mutual Life is not just taking a blind leap of faith. Research shows that by introducing AI software, productivity will be increased by 30 percent. And though the company will spend close to 2 million dollars to install, and roughly 130 dollars annually to maintain their new superhuman system, they expect to get a return on their investment in under two years. Most of that is probably coming from the 1.2 million per year they'll be saving by cutting the staff.

The system itself is top of the line, based on IBM's famous Watson Explorer, which once beat Ken Jennings at Jeopardy. As IBM's website boasts, such AI can offer much more than "just big data insights with cognitive capabilities, like natural language processing, machine learning, AI and next generation API's." According to Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun, the new processing system will be able to read a surreal number of medical certificates in a short amount of time, as well as factor the length of hospital stays, medical histories, and surgical procedures in order to calculate payouts. The system will also be able to check customer's cases agains their insurance contracts in order to prevent payment oversights. 
 

But what's more - Fukoku Mutual Life isn't even the first Japanese insurance company to try AI. Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co is already using a Watson system to process their payment assessments. The difference is that their AI has worked harmoniously alongside its human counterparts. 

Artificial intelligence has even invaded politics - the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will introduce a similar system to help draft answers for ministers during cabinet meetings, cutting down on the egregiously long stretches of time that humans spend drafting written answers. The function of the computerized system will be to provide relevant data and a list of debating points instantaneously once a minister is asked about a specific topic. Scarier still, a 2015 report by the Nomura Research Institute says that almost half of the jobs in Japan could be replaced by robots by 2035.

However, humans may be in luck. There may be a limit to A.I's capabilities, at least at this moment in time. At the end of last year, a research attempt to create a robot intelligent enough to pass the Tokyo University entrance exam was abandoned. "AI is not good at answering the type of questions that require and ability to grasp meaning across broad spectrum," explained Noriko Arai, professor at the National Institute of Informatics. So if your job is in the human sector, you can breathe easy. For now. 

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