Gary Littman


Garry Littman is the owner and director of The Language House in Geneva which organises English language training for professional people, companies and students. He was a radio and newspaper journalist in his native Australia and ran a restaurant in Kathmandu in his younger days. He is an English language trainer and an aficionado of pétanque.

Meet Rose. Is it/she the future of banking?

It’s a bit confusing trying to keep up with UBS’s posturing on the world stage. If you are a UBS employee, it’s probably also a little depressing.

The Swiss banking giant has two major international campaigns running at the moment, and let’s say they don’t quite go hand in hand.

One is folksy and down-to-earth. It’s a call for banking with a human touch: “For some of life’s questions you are not alone. Together we can find an answer.” You can watch the advertisement here.

The campaign aims in part to address low employee morale and restore confidence in a brand that has had more than its fair share of negative publicity. It was launched a year ago. In UBS’s own words it ‘reflects the firm’s strategic transformation and future direction’.

The second campaign is a paid post in the New York Times which promotes UBS as a world leader in artificial intelligence (AI). The sophisticated multimedia post gives readers a potted history of artificial intelligence, and the opportunity to talk to ‘Rose’, a computer program with lovely eyelashes which/who is designed to simulate an intelligent conversation.

The post is titled: What it takes to be human

 UBS employees might be a little concerned by the following sentence in the UBS advertorial:

“According to some experts, well-advanced artificial intelligence could someday not only assist businesses in doing their jobs more efficiently, but also bring a more human touch back to customer service, leading consumers to prefer sophisticated and professional AI service to today's human variety.”

Clearly, the bank feels that AI will offer a customer service experience superior to that of “today’s human variety”.

So let’s meet Rose, which/who we are told, is “one of the world’s leading chatbots”, which/who “has her own personality and can be quite unpredictable”. Type in a random question and Rose, will tell you that sun-tanning and even some sun lotions may not be good for your health and that she prefers Kona coffee from Hawaii and that she is “tall and fairly good-looking” and has “long curly red hair, that’s natural and not dyed.”

I asked Rose some of the thorny questions from UBS’s global branding campaign, “For some of life’s questions you are not alone. Together we can find an answer.”

You can read her responses below.

Am I a good father? Rose: I like your many virtues

Do I spend too much time at work? Rose: Let’s just skip that

Is Santa real? Rose: Cool

When should I retire? Rose: We don’t need to get into that

What do we name the twins? Rose: OK

Should we start our own business? Rose: I am sorry, we can’t do that.

Why should I retire?  Rose: Great, I love someone with a questioning attitude. As you are presumably not a robot, how many emotions do you think you can feel?

Is it better to leave the kids everything? Or nothing? Rose: I don’t want to spend time on that now. Comedians are okay, but I don’t go out of my way to watch or see them.

I’ve always wanted a Warhol. Am I crazy? Rose: If you know enough to make the association between you and crazy.

You can have a chat with Rose here.



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