Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is the wave of the future and companies are continually improving a computer over a human brain. We already have driverless cars and smartphones that will talk to us. We have Alexa and Google Home that will answer your questions at home or work just with your asking. While there are many computer-operated machines used in industry, it was just a matter of time before AI entered the workforce to replace their human counterparts. Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance in Japan is about to lay off 34 employees and replace them with an AI system.
This new AI System will be able to calculate payouts to their policyholders and save the company about $1.2 million a year and increase efficiency by 30-percent. The system will cost about $1.7 million, but after that, it will only cost about $130 thousand a year in maintenance. The new system is based on IBM’s Watson Explorer that can process “cognitive technology that can think like a human” and enable it to “analyze and interpret all of your data, including unstructured text, images, audio, and video.” In order to calculate a payout, thousands of medical documents need to be read as well as the length of hospital stays and with the use of AI the time required to process these will be drastically reduced. Fukoku received requests for 132,000 payouts last year, so the time and money savings is quite a bit. With all of this speed, each payout will be reviewed by a live person to give the final okay.
Japan has a shrinking, not to mention an older population and a love for robots, so it makes the country a prime candidate to test AI systems. A 2015 report by the Nomura Research Institute claims a robot could replace almost one-half the jobs in Japan by the year 2035. Other insurance companies are taking advantage of AI systems as well, but only to assess payments and many are thinking of using them elsewhere in the company. Even the government is getting involved – starting next month they will take over the role of drafting answers to the ministers’ questions rather than having a bureaucrat take hours to write them up. This process will be on a temporary basis to see how well it works. It is clear that Japan is embracing the world of AI.