Japanese Firm Replaces Over 30 White-Collar Workers With One Robot

An insurance firm in Japan is laying off more than 30 employees in favor of an artificial intelligence system.

For ¥200 million ($1.7 million), Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance installs the system based on IBM’s Watson Explorer this month. By the end of March, 34 white-collar workers from its payment assessment department will pack their stuff.

The doomed workers come from a pool of 47 staff members on five-year contracts. Overall, the department had 131 employees as of March 2015.

Fukoku claims it will save ¥140 million ($1.2 million) each year by firing the 34 workers. The system, maintained for ¥15 million ($130,000) a year, is expected to increase productivity by 30%.

Image: IBM
Image: IBM

According to The Mainichi, IBM Japan described it as a “cognitive technology that can think like a human” and “can analyze and interpret all of your data, including unstructured text, images, audio and video.”

It will read medical certificates and documents and collect information needed to make payouts, such as medical histories, duration of hospitalizations and surgical procedures. It will also check cases against insurance contracts to determine any special coverage clauses.

Fukoku’s move isn’t entirely surprising. In 2015, the Nomura Research Institute, a think tank and systems integrator in Japan, reported that 49% of all jobs in the country could be carried out by AI in 2035.

Support our Journalism with a Contribution

Many people might not know this, but despite our large and loyal following which we are immensely grateful for, NextShark is still a small bootstrapped startup that runs on no outside funding or loans.

Everything you see today is built on the backs of warriors who have sacrificed opportunities to help give Asians all over the world a bigger voice.

However, we still face many trials and tribulations in our industry, from figuring out the most sustainable business model for independent media companies to facing the current COVID-19 pandemic decimating advertising revenues across the board.

We hope you consider making a contribution so we can continue to provide you with quality content that informs, educates and inspires the Asian community. Even a $1 contribution goes a long way. Thank you for everyone’s support. We love you all and can’t appreciate you guys enough.

NextShark is a leading source covering Asian American News and Asian News including business, culture, entertainment, politics, tech and lifestyle.

For advertising and inquiries: info@nextshark.com