Early this year, news of a large Japanese insurance company replacing 34 of their employees with artificial intelligence (AI) sent shockwaves throughout the industry. While automation is nothing new in the insurance industry—insurers have been transforming and automating their core processes for years, after all—”artificial intelligence” is the term that really hit a nerve. “AI” and “robotics” often conjure up Hollywood images of machines taking over human jobs and becoming our masters.

But what really is the reality? Should we be wary of AI, or should we embrace it? Will it automate all key insurance activities, or will it help us make better targeting, underwriting and pricing decisions?...

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