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Cloning the Chief Economist … are you next in line?

UBS Chief Economist Daniel Kalt at a meeting with clients. Actually Daniel may be playing golf at this time, his digital twin is in charge. Image Credit: UBS and FaceMe

Key people are in high demand, that is the case for Daniel Kalt, the Chief Economist at UBS that has a long queue of investors demanding to talk to him.

Hence UBS had Daniel scheduled for a full day shooting, involving 120 cameras that took his expressions as he talked on various topics and a New Zealand company, FaceMe, took care of the rendering creating an avatar to impersonate Daniel. The rendering is so good that people talking to it do not realise they are not talking to the real Daniel.

The problem, of course, is what the avatar would say. How can the avatar be able (and be trusted) to say what the real Daniel would say in answering the clients questions?

Well, for that AI steps in, and specifically Watson, by IBM. Daniel spoke at length with Watson to prepare it to many possible questions and to articulate the answers. If a client will voice a question that Daniel has not instructed Watson to reply the avatar will decline to answer postponing the answer to a later time (and letting the real Daniel consider what the answer should be!).

UBS is planning to test Daniel digital twin managed by Watson and rendered by FaceMe on 200 USB clients. We’ll see what the results will be.

It is, however, just a matter of time and this kind of support will become common in several white collar profession. It will provide better service to clients since a replica will always be available. The question of course is for how long the real person that is cloned via the digital twin will be needed?

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.