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Weekly Bot Brief on Robotic Research and Investment Review 11-24-2017

POSTED 11/26/2017

Bot Brief Index Highlights:

The Bot Index reached a new high since its inception on January 1, 2016 with last week’s gain of 3.18%. The increase far exceeded the .914% expansion of the S & P 500. Pacing the Index’s positive return was, once again, Ekso Bionics who continues to reap from the announcement of its exoskeleton testing with  Ford Motor Company. In a string of weekly gains of 35.39% and 56.21%, the stock continued its trajectory by adding an additional 20.50% this Thanksgiving week.

In addition to Ekso, a host of other Bot Index components performed exceedingly well last week. Amazon rose 4.97%, perhaps in anticipation of accelerated Christmas shopping; two Japanese components continued strong performance with YASKAWA Electric up 10.71% and OMRON Corp. rising 7.38% on top of gains of 4.26% and 3.62% respectively of the prior week; Immersion Corp. jumped over 4% due to news of a licensing agreement with Nippon Seiki who will be utilizing IMMR technology on its printers and copiers; Accuray Inc. increased 10.42% (on top of the prior week’s 3.22%) on a research report from Fundamental Markets; AeroVironment benefited to the tune of 5.31% as a reaction to a report by Transparency Market Research entitled ‘Global Overview: Counter Terror & Public Safety Technologies’ that suggested there would be compound annual growth of 14.1% in AeroVironment’s industry and grow to $192 billion by 2022; and, finally, 3D Systems rebounded 6.35% from recent weakness due to a Barron’s article that focused on DDD’s 2018’s new product introductions in the medical field and a perception that the 3D printing business is growing faster than expected.

There were only two notable decliners in the Bot Index: IRobot who gave back 4.31% from the prior week’s 3.85% uptick and Cyberdyne Inc. that fell 2.71%.

The Point on AI and Us:

This week the Daily Mail reported on a recent employee speech by Elon Musk on his fears for AI and its integration with robots. He explained his theory that there was only a 5-10% level of success in making AI safe for mankind. His direct quote was AI represents a ‘fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization.’ The subject has support from other intellectuals, including Stephen Hawking, that artificial intelligence could be more of a threat to mankind rather than an enhancement.

Mr. Musk proposes that governments must regulate the rapid development of AI in a proactive fashion. While that sounds like a positive objective, it may be much more difficult to implement. It may be remembered once that Will Rogers was questioned about what he would do about the German U-boats in the Atlantic during the Second World War. His response was that ‘he would boil the ocean and the U-boats would turn pink and pop to the surface. He would then just need to pick them off.’ When asked how he would boil the oceans, his simply stated that he was in Strategy and not Operations. Such so is expecting the worlds’ governments to close Pandora’s Box with the lure of artificial intelligence’ ability to create a level playing field for virtually any size country. It is simply that governments change too frequently to enforce treaties and the temptation of AI power is too enticing to forego. Therefore, it will be more likely to have science come into some agreement to limit the power of AI’s autonomously learning ability to become a superior and malevolent force. Even then it is likely that technological advances will become too difficult for mankind to control and answers to ‘turn back time and knowledge’ improbable.

The Bot Brief is of the opinion that robotics should always be for the benefit of individuals, companies and the progression of mankind. They should remain a tool controlled by human programing and not self-programing that can lead to the absence of human jurisdiction. Again, easier said than done!

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 and its commentaries, analysis, opinions and represent the subjective views 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.

Balcones Investment Research can be reached at its website BalconesInvestmentResearch.com and is headquartered in Florida; with offices in Texas and North Carolina, United States