by Justin McCurry, The Guardian
A future in which human workers are replaced by machines is about to become a reality at an insurance firm in Japan, where more than 30 employees are being laid off and replaced with an artificial intelligence system that can calculate payouts to policyholders.
Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance believes it will increase productivity by 30% and see a return on its investment in less than two years. The firm said it would save about 140 m yen ($1.20 m) a year after the 200 m yen ($1.71 m) AI system is installed this month. Maintaining it will cost about 15m yen ($128 k) a year.
The move is unlikely to be welcomed, however, by 34 employees who will be made redundant by the end of March.
The system is based on IBM’s Watson Explorer, which, according to the tech firm, possesses “cognitive technology that can think like a human”, enabling it to “analyze and interpret all of your data, including unstructured text, images, audio and video”.
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