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ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, INDUSTRY DISRUPTORS, AND FINDING THE PERFECT FIT

By Lisa Chai, Senior Research Analyst, ROBO Global

Artificial Intelligence. It’s something that has captured the imaginations of futurists of every age since long before it was a reality. I’m no exception. As a kid, my favorite characters were the TerminatorD.A.R.Y.L., and Short Circuit’s “Johnny 5.” As I got older, I became obsessed with The MatrixI, Robot, and Ex Machina. Nothing could quench my appetite for a new take on the future of AI. Perhaps it’s no surprise that I managed to turn my passion into a career—and no coincidence that I’ve found myself standing right where I am today at ROBO Global.

While my passion for AI and emerging technologies could have easily steered me toward a career in robotics, my love of numbers pushed me toward the world of investing. In my role as an institutional investment analyst, I focused on active management of stocks and bonds for years—and I loved it. But in the late 2000s, I started to see a shift I couldn’t ignore. Without a doubt, there was a growing trend of outflows from my beloved active funds—and they were flying straight into ETFs. Alternatives weren’t in my wheelhouse (at least not yet), so I was surprised to see this undeniable gravitational pull toward ETFs, and I found myself questioning the active management I’d been doing my entire career. Were fundamentals and active management now passé? Were ETFs a better way for investors to pursue higher returns and easily invest in the things that mattered most to them personally?

I kept working, and I kept wondering.

Fast-forward a few years, and I found myself in a new position, this time on the private company side, which opened a window into the broader investment landscape. It was there that it became clear to me that our industry was in a quandary. Everyone was struggling to grow, and amid that struggle, everyone was looking for something—anything—that could outperform and out-deliver on investor expectations. What had changed? My childhood passion, AI, was rearing its head as an industry disruptor in my own industry.

Now I found myself not only questioning the value of active versus passive management but also pondering how AI fit into the investment picture—both as an investment and as an investment tool. I decided it was time to follow my dream and become part of the AI revolution.

I started researching companies that were focused on AI, and the one that immediately stood out from the crowd was ROBO Global. As someone who has been covering technology my whole career, I definitely don’t suffer from shiny object syndrome. But ROBO Global was different. The creator’s of the world’s first robotics-specific index, ROBO Global is focused solely on robotics, automation, and AI (RAAI). Plus, they combine a passion for fundamental analysis with an index rules-based approach. It seemed to be a perfect marriage.

As I began talking to the team at ROBO Global, I was impressed with how thoughtful they were in their portfolio construction. First, the sheer caliber of intellect and pedigree of every member of the team makes ROBO Global unique. Second, while most funds are made up of analysts who are looking only at the numbers behind the investments, ROBO Global’s executive team and advisory board members are focused on delivering great products and solutions while also giving investors the opportunity to play an active role in advancing robotics, automation, and AI and, ultimately, in helping change the world for the better.

Once I knew I’d found the perfect fit, I jumped ship—but I didn’t jump far. By bringing my experience in active management into the mix at ROBO Global, I’m finally able to combine my passions for numbers and AI. Plus, I am just as excited about the new products we are developing as I am about the future of AI and witnessing the change it is driving around the globe.

Everything I’ve done in my career has been about pushing the boundaries of technology, and my role at ROBO Global is no exception. Perhaps what’s most exciting about the opportunity to live and breathe the world of robotics and AI is the sheer pace of evolution and growth it represents. I love knowing that new opportunities are just around the corner. I love knowing that the companies and technologies we are focused on today will change how we live in the next 5, 10, and 50 years. And I love knowing that our efforts today have the potential to change lives for the better tomorrow. It’s an evolution I’m thrilled to be a part of, and I simply can’t wait to see what the future brings.

Image Source: Ex Machina, © 2015 Universal Pictures International

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