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October 24 2017 | Mark Breading

As artificial intelligence advances by leaps and bounds, one of the prominent questions in insurance and other industries is: Will bots take over my job? The fear of an AI revolution is growing and is real. Numerous studies predict that certain professions will be gone in a decade, and many other workers will be replaced by software in the form of chatbots or other AI-based systems.

robot humanWhen I am asked this question, I offer three responses – NO – MAYBE – and YES. I say that because it depends on the type of job and on the timeframe. There are already jobs that have been taken over by bots (which may be actual, physical robots, virtual assistants, or automated decisioning systems. Today, there are robots in a new bar in Las Vegas that serve drinks and dinosaur-themed robots to check in guests at a hotel in Japan. There are robot bricklayers and robots that do janitorial work in factories. But many of the bots that offer promise for insurers (and cause concern for employees) are the virtual kind, chatbots and virtual assistants for sales advice or customer service inquiries, robotic process applications that automate tasks like data entry, or sophisticated machine learning algorithms that make decisions that previously required a human expert.

A great debate is underway in society right now about the implications of AI and the workforce, with some people already jumping to the conclusion that there will be massive job loss and governments will need to provide a universal basic income. The politicians can debate that. But in the meantime, I believe we are a long way away from massive job loss. Instead, there will be increasing opportunities for AI and bots to augment human workers and professionals, improve efficiencies, and enhance customer experiences.

So YES – bots are already taking over some jobs. NO – there are some jobs that require so much human judgement, intuition, and empathy that it will be a very long time (if ever) before AI could take over. And MAYBE – there are many jobs that will be impacted by AI over the next decade and longer, and it may or may not cause job displacement.

To hear a more extensive discussion of AI and the implications for insurance, tune in to a podcast hosted by Steve Magennis from Avanade. In that podcast, I will discuss the state of the technologies and their implications for the customer experience, operations, privacy, and other areas.