It's started and the World Economic Forum predicted last year that the rise of robots and AI will result in a net loss of 5.1 million jobs over the next five years in 15 leading countries.
For 34 staff at a Japanese insurance firm, that vision just became a reality. Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance is laying off the employees and replacing them with an artificial intelligence (AI) system that can calculate insurance payouts. The firm believes it will increase productivity by 30%. It expects to save around 140m yen (£979,500 / $1.2m) a year in salaries after the 200m yen AI system is installed later this month. Maintenance of the set-up is expected to cost about 15m yen annually. Japan's Mainichi reports that the system is based on IBM Japan Ltd's Watson, which IBM calls a "cognitive technology that can think like a human". IBM says it can "analyze and interpret all of your data, including unstructured text, images, audio and video".