Robot lawyer set to replace 3,000 employees at Sberbank

Maria Nikolova

A robot capable of writing claims for the retail clients of Sberbank is set to take over the jobs of 3,000 employees at the bank’s legal department.

In tune with FinanceFeeds’ reports of artificial intelligence systems advancing in the financial services sector and assuming the roles of human beings in support positions, it has become clear that Russia’s Sberbank, or Sberbank Rossii PAO (MCX:SBER), is seeking to replace as many as 3,000 employees with a robot.

The plans affect the company’s legal department, according to a report by TASS agency, citing Sberbank’s Deputy CEO Vadim Kulik. He elaborated that in the final quarter of 2016 the company enrolled a robot lawyer that is capable of writing statements of claim for the bank’s retail clients. As a result, up to 3,000 employees are set to bid goodbye to their jobs.

Mr Kulik explained that the affected employees will be offered retraining to move to other sectors.

In September 2016, Sberbank’s CEO Herman Gref forecast that in five years AI systems will be responsible for 80% of the decisions at the bank. This means that tens of thousands of people are about to lose their jobs, he told Russian media back then.

The Central Bank of Russia is also carefully reviewing the role of robots in the financial services sector. Its stance on exploiting robo-advisers to consult investors is rather positive. One advantage of the robo-advisers that the Russian “megaregulator” notes is that they are set to lower the expenses for consultancy workforce and will, as a result, lower the entrance barrier for new companies. This, in turn, will foster competition.

At the same time, the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee is urging the adoption of rules on robotics, to tackle issues such as compliance with ethical standards. Rapporteur Mady Delvaux (S&D, LU) has called for such a robust European legal framework. Her report, approved by 17 votes to 2, examines robotics-related issues like liability, safety and changes in the labour market.

Amid other problems, the report stresses that the development of robotics could lead to large-scale societal changes, including the creation and loss of jobs in certain fields.

The full house is set to vote on the draft proposals in February 2017.

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