by Jessica Goodfellow, The Drum
While artificial intelligence has altruistic roots, intended to make everyday tasks easier and remove the possibility of human error, news this week that a Japanese insurance firm is making 34 employees redundant and replacing them with IBM Watson technology hints at a darker reality that could see human beings in administrative jobs become obsolete.
Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance believes the move will improve operating efficiency and increase productivity by 30%. The implementation of the AI system is expensive, costing 200m yen ($1.7m) to install plus a yearly running cost of 15m yen ($130,000). However, the company believes this will lead to savings of over 140m yen ($1.2m) and it will see a return on its investment in less than two years.
The system is based on IBM’s Watson Explorer, a cognitive search and content analysis platform which claims “cognitive technology that can think like a human” and can analyse and interpret all data, including unstructured text, images, audio and video, according to the tech company.
The technology will replace members of the company’s payment assessment-related department, which as of March 2015 had 131 employees.