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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Life insurance is one of the oldest industries in existence, but today it is undergoing a transformation thanks to AI and data science.

The big picture: With a business model built on predicting the future of its customers, the life insurance industry seems well-positioned to take advantage of the prognosticative powers of machine learning, but it will have to overcome an ingrained conservatism — and fears of AI bias.

By the numbers: A report published this week from the analytics company GlobalData forecasts that AI platform revenues in the insurance sector will grow by 23% a year between 2019 and 2024, reaching $3.4 billion.

  • Startups like Lemonade — which last year became the first "insurtech" company to go public — have worked to overhaul the time-consuming process of buying insurance, with a digital-first interface and machine-learning analytics.

What they're saying: "What was not being used as data made no sense to us," says Paul Ford, who spent years in the conventional insurance industry before cofounding the insurtech company Traffk.

  • While legacy life insurance providers use outdated actuarial tables to determine whether and what kind of policies to provide customers, insurtech companies like Traffk draw on thousands of data points to provide a more personalized analysis.
  • "It's all about creating a picture of risk that is high definition, as opposed to what television looked like in the 1950s," says Ford.

What's next: A report put out last month by McKinsey envisions a near future where AI has shifted the industry from its current state of “detect and repair” to “predict and prevent," leading to active insurance products that respond to changing customer behaviors in real time.

Yes, but: Some experts worry more precise insurance rates set by AI could end up discriminating against certain groups, which in turn could draw the attention of regulators.

Go deeper: Health care leads the way for top private AI firms

Go deeper

12 mins ago - World

Putin calls Biden summit "constructive," says ambassadors will return to posts

Putin at the summit with Biden. Photo: Mikhail Metzel\TASS via Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that his summit with President Biden was "constructive," and that the countries had agreed their ambassadors would imminently return to their posts in Moscow and Washington.

What he's saying: "Many of our joint positions are divergent but nevertheless I think both sides manifested a determination to try and understand each other and try and converge our positions," Putin told reporters at a press conference immediately following the meetings.

Updated 17 mins ago - World

Live updates: Putin holds press conference after Biden summit concludes

President Biden met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva for less than four hours of talks on Wednesday, a highly anticipated summit that comes as both sides say U.S.-Russia relations have sunk to a new post-Cold War low.

The latest: The summit concluded at about 11:15 a.m. ET, according to the White House. At a press conference, Putin called the talks "very constructive' and announced that the U.S. and Russia's respective ambassadors would return to their posts. Biden is expected to deliver his own press conference at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Southwest heat wave intensifies, breaks records and worsens drought

A temperature "misery index" shows peak levels across the Southwest (orange and yellow), and the upper air flow shows how the jet stream is being pushed north, away from the heat dome parked over the Four Corners region. (Earth.nullschool.net)

A punishing and long-enduring heat wave is intensifying in parts of the West and Southwest, with heat warnings and advisories in effect across seven states Wednesday. The heat will not relent until late in the weekend.

Threat level: In the coming days, 40 million are likely to see temperatures reach or exceed 100 degrees.