FAR OUT FRIDAY: Insuring the make believe for millions, Big computers to do the thinking, Insurance is no joke, even when it is
How much time do you think it would take to work out the necessary home and content insurance for the fictitious Downton Abbey? Probably a lot less time than it takes to watch one of the glacial episodes of the very popular BBC series.
But sadly some insurers in the USA have gone to great lengths to crunch the numbers and add further to the reputation of insurance people being a little too obsessed with their work for their own good.
Apparently the sprawling 1000 acre estate would need historic home replacement coverage worth a cool $239m in today’s market as well title insurance to stop predatory relatives taking ownership of a property that is passed to the oldest male heir.
Then there are contents – such as 400 year old books and paintings by old masters, liability insurance for guests and employee insurance and worker’s compensation for 60 staff who manage the 50 bedroom house, and on it goes.
Which is worse: watching a show about the landed gentry trying to desperately hold onto relevance or crunching the numbers on what it would take to insure it all? Neither, doing both surely has to take the cake in tasks never to be repeated.
IBM’s supercomputer has been let loose on the insurance sector after demolishing chess champions and Jeopardy contestants.
Watson – named after IBM’s founder and not the doctor of Sherlock Holmes fame - will be used to manage health insurance decisions and claims.
Doctors or insurance company workers will access Watson through a tablet or computer with the mega-PC comparing a patient’s medical records to what it has learned and make several recommendations in decreasing order of confidence as to what treatment should be authorized for payment.
IBM says Watson was trained like a medical student (no that doesn’t mean it drank a lot and slept in when it should have been in lectures) but was corrected when it was questioned by doctors and came up with wrong answers.
And for those concerned about a decision from a digital insurance boffin IBM says Watson will not actually make the calls but rather be a big library of advice and information, in fact the biggest, fastest and smartest library ever built.
Whatever! I for one welcome our new silicone based overlords!
Which is funnier? A satirical website running a spoof story that Daniel Day-Lewis, the actor well known for researching his roles, has pulled out of a film about the life and work of an insurance claims adjuster after five hours because he couldn’t stand the abuse or the 142 comments that followed arguing the pros and cons of adjusting and criticising the author and Day-Lewis for bad mouthing the profession.
The Daily Quarterly, which calls itself a satirical website and clearly takes the mick out of everything it writes about was hit hard by commentators who took umbrage to the story with some demanding Day-Lewis return his $15m fee.
Others argued that as claims adjusters they should be rewarded similarly with some saying Day-Lewis should man up and get back in there and earn his keep - which he actually wasn’t earning because he wasn’t researching for a film that isn’t being made. A point that only a handful of commentators seemed to understand proving that its easier to write insurance business than it is to write comedy.