Will Robots Soon Be the Better Service Providers?

Will Robots Soon Be the Better Service Providers?

The COVID-19 crisis has given digitalization an energetic boost and has shifted a lot of interaction to the Internet. It’s not always clear, though, whether we’re interacting with humans or machines there. We checked with three experts?

The Changemaker

Frank Iller has been with SIX for 11 years, and has spent the last four in the Financial Information business unit. The Head Customer Support uses the latest technologies to put his vision of change into action.

“Robots have the potential to make our customer support operations even faster, to optimize our employees’ accessibility, and to thus enhance quality of service. In our financial information business, we are currently focusing our automation efforts on e-mail correspondence, which accounts for the lion’s share of the queries we receive. As a first step, a bot will automatically route incoming e-mails to the right places. There, it will be able to make wording suggestions to support staff or autonomously insert information in the reply e-mail. The bot uses natural language processing algorithms, which enable it to understand and interpret human language. Over time, the bot will additively learn to converse with humans and will be able, for example, to get an issuer to confirm a price or to provide identification numbers of securities without any human assistance.”

The Robot

Roboy came into being in the University of Zurich’s Artificial Intelligence Lab. A number of engineers and different student teams have continually been refining Roboy since 2013. SIX is supporting the current team as a partner sponsor. 

“Not only can I understand you humans when you communicate with me, but I can also converse with you. However, in order to really be able to help you in many situations, I need more than just a computer chip, or brain, but also a body – a humanoid body. In the body’s articulations, where most of my robot pals have motors, I have artificial muscles and tendons that flex and stretch. The elasticity I gain makes my movements a little awkward in comparison, but in exchange I am capable of responding to your needs flexibly and with the full use of my entire body, particularly in tricky situations. In the ANA Avatar XPrize competition, I will prove that my capabilities will one day enable me to act as a worthy surrogate for you even in the most remote locations.”

The Scientist

Marisa Tschopp researches artificial intelligence from a humanities perspective at scip, focusing on psychological and ethical aspects. She is also the ambassador for the Women in AI initiative in Switzerland.

“Comparisons between humans and machines are omnipresent, but not constructive. The unnecessary anthropomorphization stokes fears while often losing sight of the context. The fact that a computer is better than humans at calculating is trivial. But let’s take a topic like autonomous driving. What works perfectly under laboratory conditions quickly becomes complex when, for example, other road users come into play. Automation is problematic wherever it poses a danger to people. To me, this also includes personal data, the protection of which is endangered by improper management, inexistent policies, and opaque algorithms. It’s important to me that people retain their freedom of action, which includes ensuring that digitalized processes are transparent and that personal contact remains an option – I’m thinking here, for instance, of customer advisory or recruiting processes.”