By Aaron Kesel
China’s second-largest lender by assets, China Construction Bank (CCB), has opened a Shanghai branch run entirely by robots that greet customers and manage accounts, Mirror reported.
The bank doesn’t just utilize robots; it’s packed full with new technology including virtual reality, artificial intelligence and facial recognition.
According to the South China Morning Post, as soon as customers walk through the front door they are met by a robot that asks and answers questions using voice recognition.
The financial institution in Jiujiang Road in Huangpu district is equipped with several smart automated tellers capable of a range of services including opening an account, money transfer, foreign exchange, gold investment and the issue of wealth management products.
The bank states that the new setup will be able to handle 90 percent of the cash and non-cash demands of traditional banking outlets.
Although for wealthy clients, that other 10% in need of human help, a private room is reserved for remote chats with client relationship managers via direct video feed.
He Fei, a senior researcher at Bank of Communications in Shanghai, stated the bank would be a good test ground.
Unstaffed services can solve repeated and standard demands from mass clients.
But human bankers are still needed to offer professional advices, to serve the complicated and personalised demands, for instance by wealthy clients.
However, the bank may be a little behind the times, as cryptocurrency now exists so there is no need for banks or robots that control them when you can have your own private bank account by setting up a cryptocurrency wallet.
Then there is the other issue of robots taking away jobs. SCMP notes that China has unstaffed convenience stores and cashierless karaoke booths. But the problem is bigger than China; worldwide there are talks of replacing various jobs with robots.
Recently in the past few years fast food chains like McDonald’s have decided to experiment to see if they can replace workers with robots. While McDonald’s isn’t going to replace workers overnight, the transition will happen quicker than a lot of people think.
And that’s not the only business that the bots are coming for — they are taking over every aspect of society. They are also headed for the retail business delivering freight and eliminating truckers. In fact, it sounds quite dangerous allowing a freight truck to drive itself, because there is one flaw to machines – they break down. If the sensors break down on a big rig truck going 60-70 MPH on the freeway, that’s potentially 40 tons barreling down the highway unattended except by artificial intelligence. Automation isn’t a foolproof technology and it can also be exploited by hackers. I also foresee McDonald’s and other fast food chains and big corporations like Wal-Mart potentially being robbed as people steal products while a single human attends the machines.
Even doctors could be replaced by surgeon bots. Although, robot surgery has already lead to 144 deaths. Remember, robots malfunction. Robots are also coming for the tech industry and factory work as iPhone manufacturer Foxconn is replacing a massive 60,000 workers.
Not even journalists are safe from robot replacements. All this sets a potentially dangerous precedent. We already have a lack of work – what happens when the great robot apocalypse occurs? Things aren’t going to be pretty. With robots taking our jobs, who will afford these products? One potential solution is to shift away from a monetary economy and more towards a self-sustainable resource economy like the proposed “Venus Project.”
I’ll leave you with a robot that wants to destroy all humans. Laugh it up now, but there’s a reason Tesla founder Elon Musk said artificial intelligence is potentially more dangerous than nuclear weapons.