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The Bot Brief

POSTED 04/01/2024

"There is no force on earth more powerful than an idea whose time has come."   

- Victor Hugo

 

Bots in the News:Bot Index vs. S & P 500

The Bot Index and the S & P 500 each produced returns less than fifty basis points in the Easter shortened trading week. There were only two companies that recorded double digit moves and both were from the Asian sector of the portfolio. Hiwin Technologies of Taiwan gained 11.09% while the low-priced Cyberdyne of Japanese origin declined 15%. In addition, China-based NIO Inc. fell 7.9% as the company continues to struggle against rising competition and a growing weakness in the Chinese economy.

2020's Decade of Bot Index Performance

 

"On a random walk yesterday in Tokyo I found a Robotic Cafe that'll end up breaking your heart and for all the best reasons:" - Aric Queen.

We just received this video from our friend Aric Queen. For those unfamiliar with Aric, he is a free spirit who has wandered the globe as a photographer for National Geographic Magazine and as writer, editor, producer and voice of his Spotify cast Rough Sundays - recording music around the globe. He is a very sensitive guy having taken up various causes for what he feels are injustices throughout the world. This latest piece on robotics and human interaction is a poignant example of how the two ‘cultures?’ can expand their relationship for the betterment of humankind.

“Taking a walk around my neighborhood I saw something very Japanese… a robot café. I walked in and was greeted by a robot I'm guessing powered by AI. A coffee and an entry to the robot operated cafe was ¥1500 or $10. I told myself I'd film it for my niece and my nephews so I paid the expensive entry. but after sitting down and seeing what was really going on, I would have paid 10 times that $10. For you see the robots are piloted and voiced remotely by real humans, humans spread all around Japan, real humans confined to wheelchairs

Created by Kentano Yoshifuji who aimed to invent a robot as himself is suffering from social withdrawal syndrome, (something reaching near epidemic levels in Japan) his concept of needs based servers was the genesis of the coffee shop. The cafe opened in 2018 and has since grown to employ more than 60 people suffering from ALS, muscular dystrophy and other disabilities. Customers are encouraged to chat with each robot all of whom speak English. There's even a robot pilot person who brews coffee and one at the bar who will keep you company. As I was leaving, a robot ‘greeter’ Yuki waved and called me back over. As I started to chat my voice began to crack so I quickly said goodbye and walked out of the cafe, By the time I got around the corner I was in tears.

This is why people always talk about how many steps ahead Japan always seems to be. The world was first introduced to this combination of innovation and kindness with opening of the restaurant called Mistaken Orders where older folks with dementia were employed and you probably wouldn’t be served what you asked for. Japan continues to do things like this. Invent a robot that’s cool. But then think Wait, this is a way for people with disabilities to not only work , but interface socially in a way they’d have never beem able to. That to me was just incredibly beautiful."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bot Brief is a weekly newsletter designed for economists, investment specialists, journalists, and academicians. It receives no remuneration from any companies that may from time to time be featured in the brief and its commentaries, analysis, opinions, and research represent the subjective view of Balcones Investment Research, LLC. Due to the complex and rapidly changing nature of the subject matter, the company makes no assurances as to the absolute accuracy of the material presented.