ESG vs. Robots? It's Simply a Battle That Doesn't Exist

By Richard Lightbound via

For the past week, I’ve been traveling around Italy on a fascinating, whirlwind tour of some of the best and brightest companies and investors in the region. It’s an excursion with a purpose: as we approach the end of Q3, it’s time to rebalance the ROBO Global Index, which means potentially adding some rising stars to the mix that pass through our research and quality filters. It’s been amazing to ride on the coattails of Professor Wyatt Newman, one of ROBO Global’s key advisors (who we fondly refer to as “the PhDs”) as he prepared for his TEDx Luguano talk on Professions of the Future. As you can imagine, traveling with Wyatt is a continuous education when it comes to the nuances and complexities of robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence (AI). I’m stunned over and over again, not only by what is already possible using these technologies, but also by what the future will look like on the very near horizon.

When Wyatt talks to the investment community about how robotics and AI will change the entire landscape of our lives in the next decade (no, this is no longer futuristic dreaming, but our inevitable reality), the topic of ESG seems to rise to the top of the discussion more than ever. I’m not surprised. While ESG investing (short for Environmental, Social, and Governance) is rising in popularity in the US, it is still considered a “nice to have” component in a portfolio. In Europe, on the other hand, ESG is nearly always part of the investment discussion; some individual and institutional investors won’t even consider non-ESG investments.

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