News and Commentary

THEY TOOK OUR JOBS: Five Robots Replace Seven Workers At Swiss Bank

Five robots replaced seven workers at a Swiss bank when the robots were shown to be more efficient.

According to the Daily Mail, “The robots were able to do the same work as a human employee but could work 24/7 without a break, making them overall more effective. The pilot project at St. Galler Kantonalbank (SGKB) went so well the bank has decided to take on more robots at the end of this month.”

In the test run, SGKB acquired the private banking business of W.M Warburg Bank AG. Since both had differing IT systems, the robots were used to successfully implement the W.M. Warburg customer data into the SGKB IT system.

“This happened the same way as if it was done manually by an employee: the robot took the data from a field of the Excel file and transferred it to the corresponding field in the system of the bank,” said Adrian Kunz, General Secretariat of SGKB.

Since this was a pilot program, Kunz said “the robots did not replace existing jobs.”

“We’ve seen that’s technically feasible and now we’re exploring whether other applications are worthwhile, and I’m very optimistic about that,” Felix Buschor, member of the SGKB management board told Bloomberg.

Employees at the bank now fear they may be replaced. Managers stressed that will not be happening.

“However, as we have always compensated efficiency gains through natural fluctuation and because we paid close attention to enabling our employees to develop new technologies, the acceptance is high,” said Buschor.

Not all experimental robot employees work out successfully. In Scotland, a robot assistant at a supermarket received a pink slip after just one week on the job.

The ShopBot, named “Fabio,” was developed by Heriot-Watt University with the function of giving customers “high fives, hugs and greetings of ‘hello gorgeous’.” However, in just a few days, Fabio became more “irritating” while confusing shoppers.

For example, when a customer asked where he could find a beer, Fabio gave the laziest answer in the English lexicon: “It’s in the alcohol section.”