Should you find yourself both in Calgary and in need of a bank, there’s a chance you could be greeted by…that thing.
ATB Financial has teamed up with SoftBank Robotics America to unleash Pepper, a friendly 3-wheeled robot designed to make the banking experience better or something. They say that she is capable of recognizing human emotions (that ought to be fun) and that her purpose is to “draw more people into the bank and provide them with a fun and engaging experience that keeps them coming back.”
Pepper’s interactions will be fairly basic at first.
The three-wheeled robot will be able to dance, recommend products and services, pose for selfies and interact with people via a mounted touch screen tablet, or verbally in several different languages.
I like how they just sorta slip recommend products and services in there between all the pictures and the dancing and the interactivity.
Why is this happening? Why is the bank becoming an arcade with ads? That’s because the company’s research (Research I say!) has shown that people think banks kinda suck.
ATB Financial says it partnered with SoftBank Robotics America after customer research found many people carry a lack of trust and high levels of discomfort in dealing with the banking industry.
“We found out that there’s some people who don’t really love banking, and don’t love coming into banks,” Boga said. “We want to bring happiness to people using banking.”
You know what would make people happy about the bank? Being honest and fair with them and not dinging the everloving bejeezling shit out of them on every transaction, you motherfuckers! Or you could let them take selfies with a commercial slinging robot that knows their names. Whatever works.
“Wait wait wait…what’d you just say, Steve?”
Well, I was about to say that option two sounds a lot like something somebody who just “found out” that a not insignificant number of folks believe that dealing with giant financial institutions traverses the universe in search of new dicks to suck would do, but I get the sense you’re wondering about something else.
“Yes, we are. What was that thing about our names?”
Yes, eventually the plan is that Pepper will know everything in order to shill more efficiently.
But ATB has hinted that Pepper’s functionality could eventually be expanded by connecting it to an artificially intelligent system. This would allow the robot to perform biometric authentication via the camera installed in its head, making it possible for Pepper to address customers by name and provide them with personalized banking recommendations based on their stored customer information.
You know, that personal, one-on-one service in every bank commercial you’ve ever seen.
The company insists that Pepper is not intended to replace human jobs, but rather to allow the human staff to engage on a more personal level with customers. As for what exactly that means, you’ve got me. A bit of small talk and some attempted upselling pretty well sums up every meeting with a bank human I’ve ever had, so I’m not sure what’s left. And now that I think about it, none of them have ever done a little dance and taken a picture with me at the end, so advantage robot.
If I were a banking human I just got a wee bit nervous, and I may have also signed up for some dance classes and photography lessons on my way home. You know, so I’ll at least have the smallest snowball’s chance of keeping that job I’m totally not being automated out of.