Every article you read these days that focuses on technology mentions the progression of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Technology advances have allowed computers to think more cognitively like humans, and these powerful systems can analyze unstructured data, images, and audio samples, making them a useful tool for any industry.
In a recent study, 54% of global IT and business decision makers cited the fear of change among employees as one of the biggest barriers to AI adoption. There is a fear among employees that robots will take over all human interactions, resulting in unemployment. There are of course two sides to the argument.
We need to remember that robots and AI can’t replace all human functions, at least not yet anyway. Humans are emotional and experience more feelings than robots, who simply analyze the data placed in front of them. For example, robots are being introduced into the hospitality industry in Asia, where AI is further developed than other markets, with robots being created to serve food and drinks to customers.
Whereas robots can perform these types of repetitive tasks quite well, there is more fear attached when customers are making more risky purchases, such as purchasing financial or insurance advice. This is where it is important to understand how robots and people can work together, rather than against each other.
Last year, at the Digital Insurer Asia 2016 Conference, a robot, Sophia, was unveiled as their mystery guest. Sophia was built by Hanson Robotics in Hong Kong and was questioned by Hugh Terry, the event organizer live on stage. During Sophia’s interview, she highlighted seven things she can do better than humans. Sophia:
- Can talk to people without getting angry or bored,
- Works 24/7, without getting tired,
- Doesn’t age. In fact, AI ensures she only gathers more intelligence over time,
- Doesn’t need promotions,
- Can be programmed to help customers find the right products specific to them,
- Doesn’t forget anything, and
- Is always keen to learn more!
During the interview, Sophia identifies Hugh by scanning his face using cameras in her eyes. She then proceeds to ask Hugh if she can access his personal data using blockchain technology to provide him with a quote for car insurance. Sophia takes all the data into account and provides Hugh with a competitive quote by scanning the market. It is incredible to watch, and although this is completed using test data, there is no doubt that this may be the future of insurance. The full interview can be seen here.
An insurer in Japan, Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance, recently implemented an AI system using IBM’s Watson to calculate payouts for policyholders. The company has estimated that it will increase productivity by 30% through this implementation, and will reduce the time needed to calculate insurance payouts. Although, each payout amount will be approved by a member of staff before being issued to a claimant. This shows how robots and humans can work collaboratively to deliver the best results for both the insurer and the end customer.
On the flip side, unfortunately, the implementation of this system for Fukoku Mutual Life, will displace 34 jobs at the insurance company by the end of March. This will cause issues globally if jobs are being replaced by robots, and employees may rightly have reason to believe that AI will potentially overtake their jobs.
Unfortunately, at the end of the day, businesses want to create more profit, increase productivity, and reduce operational costs, and AI can offer all of this. AI can ensure good business decisions are being made daily, so employees can be used more effectively to improve business outcomes. A recent study found that many IT and business decision makers are ready to take advantage of the cost reductions and increased productivity being offered through AI.
As AI continues to progress it may be a case of businesses keeping up to date with technology trends. For insurers, who are reluctant to take the plunge to newer technology for fear of displacing employees, they may get left behind. And in this competitive market, this is not an option.
This catch 22 will cause issues across multiple industries over the coming years, with businesses trying to outweigh the disadvantages with the multiple benefits AI can offer.