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The Bot Brief

POSTED 02/28/2022

"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

Given the world events surrounding the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, it is not surprising that the Bot Index’s four defense stocks were among the performers that propelled the Index up 1.05% for the week. Lockheed Martin led the gainers with a strong 6% increase, while AeroVironment, the drone manufacturer, added 4.7%. Raytheon Technologies gained 5% and Northrup Grumman increased 4.7%.

Also, not surprising were the losers that were all subject to the geopolitical instability. The Chinese EV maker, NIO Ltd. fell 9.52% and fellow electric car company, Tesla, dropped almost 5 ½%. Both were marked down by investors over the relationship between China and Russia and potential trade sanctions. Also, with ‘invasion mania’ on the forefront of the news, the Taiwanese tech company, Hiwin Technologies, fell over 4%.

2020's Decade of Bot Index Performance

Bots at War:

As we have always heard, “the power of robots is to execute the dangerous, dirty and demeaning jobs that humans have traditionally been tasked to perform.” Clearly, that sentiment involves warfare issues where drones, unmanned vehicles, air defense systems and AI have been employed to augment the role of soldiers on the battlefield. The current conflict in the Ukraine presents not only the obvious aspect of robots involved in armed engagement, it reveals another feature of the psychological impact robots can perform.

Unlike Soviet era acceptance of mass casualties, following the conflicts in Afghanistan and Chechnya, modern Russia has cultivated a reduced tolerance for battlefield casualties. As a result, an unmanned armored vehicle, the uran-9, was developed and reasonably successfully used in the ongoing Syrian civil war. With protests of his incursion into Ukraine, Vladimir Putin recognizes the thin line in which he is crossing abroad and within the Russian people. As was reported this weekend, Russian troops have brought in a mobile crematorium. The only reason for this extraordinary employment is to obfuscate the number of casualties experienced by both Russian troops and Ukrainian citizens and armed forces. Such is the fear of Vladimir Putin on his reputation and legacy within Russia. Consequently, to reduce battlefield casualties, the uran-9 has likely been employed as an ‘advance’ weaponry into the streets of Kiev. With a two-mile range, the unmanned tactical vehicle can perform many of the extremely vulnerable tasks such as securing bridges, airport runways and transportation facilities that would normally fall on exposed troops. In other words, robots and unreported vaporized Russian casualties will help allay Putin’s concern over civil unrest and, perhaps, allow his expansive ego to remain intact.

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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 material presented.