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Japanese company replaces office workers with artificial intelligence

Discussion in 'Topical Discussions (In Depth)' started by JayDubya, Jan 5, 2017.



  1. JayDubya

    JayDubya Gold Member Gold Chaser

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    Japanese company replaces office workers with artificial intelligence

    https://www.theguardian.com/technol...-intelligence-ai-fukoku-mutual-life-insurance

    Insurance firm Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance is making 34 employees redundant and replacing them with IBM’s Watson Explorer AI


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    Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance believes it will increase productivity by 30% Photograph: Toru Hanai/REUTERS
    Justin McCurry in Tokyo

    Thursday 5 January 2017 04.57 EST Last modified on Thursday 5 January 2017 17.00 EST

    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 140m yen (£1m) a year after the 200m yen (£1.4m) AI system is installed this month. Maintaining it will cost about 15m yen (£100k) 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 “analyse and interpret all of your data, including unstructured text, images, audio and video”.

    The technology will be able to read tens of thousands of medical certificates and factor in the length of hospital stays, medical histories and any surgical procedures before calculating payouts, according to the Mainichi Shimbun.

    While the use of AI will drastically reduce the time needed to calculate Fukoku Mutual’s payouts – which reportedly totalled 132,000 during the current financial year – the sums will not be paid until they have been approved by a member of staff, the newspaper said.

    Japan’s shrinking, ageing population, coupled with its prowess in robot technology, makes it a prime testing ground for AI.

    According to a 2015 report by the Nomura Research Institute, nearly half of all jobs in Japan could be performed by robots by 2035.

    Dai-Ichi Life Insurance has already introduced a Watson-based system to assess payments - although it has not cut staff numbers - and Japan Post Insurance is interested in introducing a similar setup, the Mainichi said.

    AI could soon be playing a role in the country’s politics. Next month, the economy, trade and industry ministry will introduce AI on a trial basis to help civil servants draft answers for ministers during cabinet meetings and parliamentary sessions.

    The ministry hopes AI will help reduce the punishingly long hours bureaucrats spend preparing written answers for ministers.

    If the experiment is a success, it could be adopted by other government agencies, according the Jiji news agency.

    If, for example a question is asked about energy-saving policies, the AI system will provide civil servants with the relevant data and a list of pertinent debating points based on past answers to similar questions.

    The march of Japan’s AI robots hasn’t been entirely glitch-free, however. At the end of last year a team of researchers abandoned an attempt to develop a robot intelligent enough to pass the entrance exam for the prestigious Tokyo University.

    “AI is not good at answering the type of questions that require an ability to grasp meanings across a broad spectrum,” Noriko Arai, a professor at the National Institute of Informatics, told Kyodo news agency.
     
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  2. tom baxter

    tom baxter back from 2004

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    AI lol. A friend, an I-diot, was bragging about how SIRI can find the local pizza shop we use just by asking her, "pizza shop". Sure enough she spruks out the name and address and even puts the google map up. I yawned and said, that with today's interconnected systems, all you should have to say is "Get me a pizza SIRI" and she will

    1/ call the local shop and order your favorite pizza
    2/ transfer the funds
    3/ track the driver (they are all GPS monitored)
    4/ announce when it has arrived outside.

    Now that that would be useful wouldn't it? But that is not what IT is about. IT is about selling you new phones to waste your life on, new computers before the old one wears out, selling you movies, stealing your job. IT has always been touted as the great boon of modern mankind but I struggle to think of a single thing, beyond the free internet, where it has meaningfully enhanced my life in the last 15 years. As for AI, true AI, that is still firmly in the realm of science fiction and may well forever remain there.
     
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  3. oldgaranddad

    oldgaranddad Gold Member Gold Chaser Site Supporter

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    You still need someone to maintain and upgrade the AI system periodically and then you need a manager to evaluate a new AI system because the current AI vendor isn't living up to expectations or is gouging you on the contract renewal. Then you need a bunch of lawyers to review the hosting, software and support contracts along with the liability and business interruption policies if the AI fails or has a bug in it. Oh! and don't forget the IT people you need to get the information out of the AI system for PCI, SOX and HIPAA auditors.

    As a CEO once said, jobs are like cockroaches, you kill off one job in your organization and you realize five new jobs have crawled out of the woodwork to replace it.
     
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  4. tom baxter

    tom baxter back from 2004

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    Driver-less cars, I have never seen one without a driver, his foot hovering over the brake pedal. Many people assume they are the future, well if that's the case they better get an offroad version going, because the rate at which the roads are being converted back to dirt that's what they will be driving on. Hi tech smart electric cars on rutted dirt roads, somehow the concept doesn't sit well in my mind.
     

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