Tech analysis from Africa and the world

This Japanese Company Is Replacing Its Entire Workforce With An Artificial Intelligence System

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It’s already happening people. A Japanese company is now replacing its 34 human employees with machines. UK news outlet, The Telegraph reports that Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance is set to replace the employees with IBM’s Watson Explorer AI (artificial intelligence) even though IBM CEO Gina Rometty said in an interview that she doesn’t think her system would eventually take human jobs. She rather predicted a partnership between human and artificial intelligence systems and said these systems should rather be seen to humans as a complementary for their hard tasks instead of seeing them as a threat. Well it turns out that Watson is actually here to take jobs and will eventually replace majority of human jobs.

The Telegraph reports that after installing the system for 200m yen/$1.7m, it thinks productivity will be increased by 30 percent and that it would save about 140m yen/$1.2m in just two years. This means that these employees would get fired by March 2017 and it’s not clear what they can do about it.

This comes as it is believed that most Japanese jobs could actually become automated by 2035 according to a 2015 Nomura Research Institute report and frankly speaking, Japan isn’t the only country that could face this as many manufacturing jobs are now going extinct from the US to Europe and to Asia. That doesn’t exempt Africa where we are now seeing a rise in automation in the financial sector for example. A classic example would be the enhanced internet banking system that has come with a fast penetration of high speed internet into many African nations. Nigeria for example now has an over 100 percent tele-density rate and another projection of 30 percent broadband coverage by next year. On smartphones, with more affordable Android phones, it is estimated that there’ll be about 350 million smartphone users on the continent by the end of the year. All of these just increases the chances of more people accessing services such as banking without having to visit a banking hall. While this may be on the low end of automation, it has started cutting down on the number of staff needed to service the public.

With respect to health research and treatments, IBM Watson is now just as good as humans or even better at diagnosing diseases like cancer. This was revealed when Human experts at the University Of North Carolina School Of Medicine also tested the accuracy of Watson at diagnosing a disease and prescribing treatments. After analysing about 1,000 confirmed cases, Watson recommended treatment plans that matched what oncologists had recommended before. 

In the Telegraph report, it also says the NHS is trialing artificial intelligence as an alternative to the 111 helpline, and bosses have said AI is the next frontier for online retail.

The thing is this, automation will eventually replace a lot of human jobs but certainly not all of it. There are jobs that would need to interact with artificial intelligence (AI) systems eventually.

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