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IBM’s Watson starts to take human jobs in Japan

AI artificial intelligence machine learning cognitive computing

The human race thought it had a bit longer, but the end is in sight. Or at least it is in Japan, where IBM’s Watson has started taking our jobs in the insurance sector.

While it may sound very dramatic, it shows the concept and reality of artificial intelligence are much closer than most would want to believe. Mainstream AI has been getting closer and closer without many realizing as the industry drip-feeds functionality into everyday activities, though Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance will be replacing 34 humans with IBM’s cognitive technologies over the next couple of months.

According to The Mainichi, company’s payment assessment-related department had 131 employees as of March 2015, though 34 of these will be made redundant by the coming March. The contracts of an additional 13 members of staff will allowed to run, but will not be renewed. The replacement AI system will initially cost roughly £1.3 million to install and just over £100,000 per annum to run. The company will save roughly £970,000 per annum by using Watson as opposed to 34 individuals.

While it is still too early to say computers will decide on whether an insurance claim is accepted or rejected, Watson will undertake the labour intensive work of digging through medical history, the procedures they have undergone and the doctor’s diagnosis for example, before making a recommendation. This final recommendation will either be accepted or rejected by the humans in the department. According to The Mainichi, the types of cases the AI would have handled totalled around 132,000 in 2015.

In recent months, there have been a number of reports which outlined the potential disruptive native of artificial intelligence, as well as the need to increase the speed in which retraining is being offered to certain industries. The moves in Japan show just how quickly AI innovators are advancing, and the sluggishness of governments around the world in reacting to the modernisation.

The current rate of AI development could see millions made jobless in the next outsourcing evolution. If governments thought the outsourcing of manufacturing plants to the third world came quickly, they will be in for a sharp surprise with the rise of artificial intelligence. This however is not a problem on the other side of the planet which can be ignored; artificial intelligence is designed to remove the necessity of labour intensive, white collar jobs. The lower-middle classes in developed nations are next on the evolutionary outsourcing hit list.

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