While the dust still settles on a White House report that warns about the future implications Artificial Intelligence (AI) will have on the US and global economy, one Japanese firm has announced that it will be replacing around 30% of its workforce with IBM’s AI, Watson.


The Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance Company has said it intends to lay off around 34 of its current employees by March, and does not intend to renew the contracts for another 13 individuals when their current period of service ends.

The Watson AI is to be used to make recommendations based on evidence using statistical and algorithmic reasoning, to analyse claims and the amount that the Japanese company should pay out to successful claimants.

But it’s not a complete shot out of the blue. The company already uses the IBM Watson system to analyse the tone and language of customer complaints made over the phone. Watson determines whether the insurance company’s customers language is positive or negative and transcribes the spoken words into text.

All that being said, Fukoku will still retain around 84 payment assessment employees who will still have to approve or reject the Watson AI’s recommendations.

While this latest story about AI replacing human employees has made the news, Fukoko is only one of a multitude of Japanese companies using Watson or other AI alternatives.

The disruptive influence of AI on humans is set to continue and grow over the next 20 years. The World Economic Forum predicts advances in AI could eliminate more than 7 million jobs in 15 of the world’s leading economies over several years. The same report also concludes that AI will probably create 2 million new jobs in computer science, engineering and mathematics over the same time period.

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