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Japanese insurer to replace white-collar workers with robots


Reading medical certificates and determining awards are some of the tasks Tokyo-based Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance Co. is planning to give to robots in 2017, as the insurer plans to replace 30% of its payment-assessment department's human staff with artificial intelligence. 

The Mainichi newspaper in Japan reported that the company is aiming to improve efficiency with the move and to prevent payment oversights. In 2015, 131 people worked in the department. 

The insurer told the newspaper that it will not renew some employee contracts and that it plans to use IBM Japan Ltd.'s “Watson” robotic system to replace them.

IBM describes the system 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.”
In addition to reading medical certificates written by doctors and other documents to collect information on medical histories, length of hospital stays and surgical procedures, the system will also be able to check claimants’ cases against insurance contracts to find any special coverage clauses.