Chicago skyline, Illinois, USA

The people who will shape the future of the U.S. life insurance industry are spending more time thinking about robots.

Thousands of industry actuaries, marketing executives and technology strategists are converging in Chicago today for the 2018 Life Insurance Conference — the latest edition of an annual conference series that started in 2003.

Event organizers scheduled no breakout sessions on robots or artificial intelligence in 2015 or 2016.

They scheduled one breakout session on artificial intelligence and the Internet of things in 2017.

This year, organizers have put three sessions on robots on the agenda, along with one session on artificial intelligence.

One of the sessions on robots will also cover artificial intelligence: Kimberly Harris-Ferrante, an analyst from Gartner, will talk Tuesday about how life insurers are already planning, and implementing, robotic process automation projects.

(Related: 5 Ways MassMutual’s AI Systems Could Evolve)

One of the breakout sessions on the getaway day, Wednesday, will focus on use of blockchain technology in the insurance industry.

Four major life industry groups — LOMA, LIMRA, the Society of Actuaries and the American Council of Life Insurers — team up to organize the Life Insurance Conference events.

The groups created the conference series at a time when life insurers were devoting more energy to selling products such as annuities, disability insurance and long-term care insurance. The groups’ goal was to offer a major event that would focus solely on life insurance.

In recent years, the organizers have included more sessions with a focus on technology than on regulatory matters.

This year, organizers are offering one breakout session with a focus on  the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and two that will give attendees an update on the U.S. Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule.

— Read As Insureds Live Longer, Old Gets Older on ThinkAdvisor.

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