UBS Digitally Cloned Its Chief Economist So He Wouldn’t Miss His Meetings

Swiss Bank UBS Agrees To Turn Over 4,000 Plus Account Names
NEW YORK - AUGUST 19: People enter the building of the Swiss bank UBS in Midtown Manhattan August 19, 2009 in New York City. UBS will release over 4,000 names of American account holders as part tax-evasion settlement and investigation by American authorities. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)
Chris Hondros/Getty Images

UBS Chief Economist Daniel Kalt is in very high demand. So, the Swiss investment bank decided to clone him, digitally at least. Now through a rendering captured by more than 120 high-definition cameras in over a full day of shooting, the company can have Kalt (or at least his likeness) meet with multiple clients at a time via interactive video chat, without ever even stepping foot in the conference room.

New Zealand artificial intelligence expert FaceMe was hired to create the interactive avatar of Kalt that will meet with clients via television screen. UBS told the Financial Review that the project, called UBS Companion, is about “trying to find the best possible combination of human and digital touch.”

The Kalt clone will meet with 100 clients in the Bellevue branch in central Zurich in the near future. It is said to be so lifelike that customers might believe they are watching a video of a real human. When they speak with it, they will receive answers conjured up through the real Kalt’s training of IBM’s Watson AI technology. This is tightly controlled, according to the Financial Review, and the digital Kalt will not answer any questions the real Kalt didn’t teach it to.

The UBS website says that the Kalt avatar and another available avatar named Fin, are being deployed “to explore how to create a new frictionless access to UBS’s expertise for our clients and to test the acceptance of digital assistants in a wealth management context.”

FaceMe is working to create interactive avatars for other banks, as well, including a more generic “Josie” at the ASB, the Commonwealth Bank’s New Zealand subsidiary.

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