Meet Pepper: The New Face of AI Robotics
- The artificial intelligence (AI) robotics market will grow to $12.36 billion by 2023 — up from just $2.84 billion in 2017 — an annual rise of 28.78%.
- A global exchange-traded fund with a portfolio of about 30 companies at the forefront of robotics and AI has posted double-digit gains this year, beating the S&P 500 Index.
Remember that classic scene from The Graduate, where Dustin Hoffman’s character is told the future is “plastics”? Well, if that 1967 film were remade today, Hoffman might be told the future is “robotics.”
Last year, North American companies ordered a record 35,880 robots — 7% more than in 2017, the Robotic Industries Association reports. And the artificial intelligence (AI) robotics market will grow to $12.36 billion by 2023. That’s up from just $2.84 billion in 2017 — an annual rise of 28.78%.
This week, I had the opportunity to get up close and personal with the face of that new robot revolution.
Her name: Pepper.
Pepper is the most sophisticated robot ever made. She can read emotions, do interviews, connect to cloud-computer systems and even express “feelings” in 20 different languages — all thanks to her unique programming.
And she’s already shaking up a handful of industries that are embracing AI and robotics — popping up in banks, hospitals and malls across the country.
I caught up with Pepper this week at the HSBC Bank in Miami, where she made her debut as a new bank “employee” as part of the 2019 Fintech Americas Conference.
What she had to tell me face to face — make that: face to digital facial array — was astonishing. In short, she and her kind are poised to disrupt a host of old-world industries and provide a phenomenal investment option.
This week, I have two ways to play the robotic revolution — investments that have already produced double-digit gains this year alone.
Bank on the Friendliest Face of Technology You’ll Ever See
As a lifelong journalist, writer and book author, I’ve done thousands of interviews — with everyday folks, as well as celebrities, financial experts, actors, athletes, rock stars, scientists, doctors, politicians and criminals (including one who fit both of those last two categories).
But by far the strangest, most challenging and most fascinating interview I’ve ever done was my tête-à-bot with Pepper.
Here’s my video report and interview with Pepper:
Bold Profits Daily
June 7, 2019
Nick Tate: This is Pepper.
Pepper: My name is Pepper and I’m a humanoid robot.
Nick: Now, she may look like a just a toy — one step up from those mechanical pets made for kids. But in fact she’s the most sophisticated artificially intelligent thinking machine ever made. And she’s already shaking up a handful of industries that are embracing AI and robotics.
Like bank, retail and even health care. You see, her creators have big plans for her.
Kass Dawson, global head of marketing and strategy for Softbank Robotics: What we’re realizing is this device, this tool, this robot is a way for us to bridge that divide between the digital world and the physical world that hasn’t really ever existed before.
What is happening for businesses, specifically in retail and retail banking, is they know that their customers are going to have a higher level of customer satisfaction when they interact with both of those platforms. So, what we’re doing with the robot is ensuring that there’s an interaction with both of those platforms, whether you’re in the physical space or the digital space. You’re now going to be across all of them.”
Nick: We caught up with Pepper at her new home at the HSBC Bank in Miami — where she made her splashy debut this week as part of the 2019 Fintech Americas Conference. And let me just say, interviewing a robot? Well, that was a first for me. It was one of the most interesting — if challenging — interviews I’ve ever done.
Nick: Hello, Pepper, how are you today?
Pepper: “I’m always feeling good, thank you. How are you?”
Nick: I’m well, thank you very much. Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself? Tell me about your family?
Pepper: “The HSBC team is my family. what can I help you with? You can choose one of the options on the screen.”
Nick: Now, for companies like HSBC Bank, there is a tangible bottom-line benefit to having a robot meet, greet and interact with customers.
Jeremy Balkin, HSBC Bank’s head of innovation: “Pepper brings an amazing, cutting-edge innovation retail banking customer experience in a way that we don’t see other competitors realizing.
“We live in an experiential world and consumer banking is transactional. So, the question is, how can you take a transactional environment into an experience which is fun?
“The better the experience, the more engaged the experience, in some cases the more digital the experience — even if it’s a physical experience — leads to a deeper relationship with your customer, a more long-term value with your customer, a more meaningful value to the customer and actually a deeper financial relationship with the customer. “
Nick: So, I think it’s fair to say that what we’re seeing here is truly a glimpse into the future.
Balkin: “We don’t think of the future of banking or the bank of the future; we live and breathe it every day.”
Nick: Can you dance for me?
Pepper: Yay! Let’s dance.
Nick: Take it away…
Until next week, I’m Nick Tate — bringing you this Bold Profits update.
And for the latest on AI, robotics and tech — and the investment opportunities they provide — you can find me at banyanhill.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for joining me today.
In just a few minutes, she answered a dozen questions about herself and her role at the HSBC Bank — she’s 4 years old, has a few friends, likes to have fun and has a wealth of computer-assisted knowledge about banking, finance and customer service. She even told me a bad joke and did a little “happy robot” dance for me.
But most striking was the way Pepper seemed to actually be listening to my questions — nodding and “blinking” her electronic eyes as I spoke, then delivering a specific answer to a specific question (most of the time, at least).
Weirdly, I found myself thanking her for her answers, the way I sometimes do with Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. It’s this canny social quality that makes Pepper so special as the new face of the AI robotics revolution.
Kass Dawson, head of marketing communications for SoftBank Robotics, explained that this isn’t by accident.
“What we’re realizing is this device, this tool, this robot is a way for us to bridge that divide between the digital world and the physical world that hasn’t existed before,” he told me.
Dawson added that Pepper is being refined and improved. So, in the near future, we can expect to see her not only in banks, but also restaurants, educational settings, retail stores, hospitals and a wide variety of industries and workplaces that are embracing new, high-tech ways of doing business.
For companies such as HSBC, there’s a tangible bottom-line benefit to having a robot meet, greet and interact with customers and staff.
Jeremy Balkin, HSBC’s head of innovation, told me he has seen a huge boost in business since HSBC installed Pepper at four of its banks — in New York, Seattle, Beverly Hills and Miami.
“The results have been stunning,” he told me this week. “Since we first launched Pepper at our New York City flagship branch … we’ve seen a 60% increase of new business.”
2 Ways to Play Robotics and AI
Testimonials like this tell me there’s a great investment opportunity in robotics and AI.
Savvy investors who have bet on the opportunities these tech mega trends represent are already seeing gains even though they have just begun to change how we live.
Opportunities like this are the heart of our Bold Profits services. For instance, Paul Mampilly’s Profits Unlimited service includes an AI company whose stock has risen more than 33% since he added it to the model portfolio last fall.
Another way to take advantage of these advances is to invest in an exchange-traded fund (ETF).
The Global X Robotics & Artificial Intelligence ETF (Nasdaq: BOTZ) is great way to do just that.
The fund holds a portfolio of about 30 companies at the forefront of robotics and AI. Since the start of 2019, the ETF is up nearly 20%.
And keep in mind: Pepper is just a 4-year-old — a toddler — as she told me herself.
As she matures and develops into adulthood — along with her brothers and sisters in the AI robotics industry — so will the applications she will bring to a range of industries, businesses and customer-service settings.
And investors who see Pepper’s potential — and act on it now — stand to make a bundle of money.
You should be one of them.
Until next week…
Senior Editorial Manager, Banyan Hill Publishing
I’ve been investing for more than 25 years. I started my career on Wall Street in 1991 as an assistant portfolio manager at Bankers Trust. I quickly advanced to prominent positions at Deutsche Bank and ING, managing multimillion-dollar accounts. In 2006, the owners of a $6 billion firm named Kinetics Asset Management recruited me to manage their hedge fund.