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A robot rings the opening bell at the NYSE — and it was disturbingly lifelike

  • On a day computerized trading was being blamed in part for the market turmoil, a robot helped ring the opening bell at the NYSE on Tuesday.
  • Bina48 stands a little shorter than its neighbors and appears considerably less enthusiastic. But otherwise, "she" blends right in.
  • Bina48's sister-of-sorts, Sophia, has captured the headlines more recently.

On a day computerized trading was being blamed in part for the market turmoil, a lifelike robot helped ring the opening bell at the NYSE on Tuesday.

The bell ringing followed two days of roiled trading on Wall Street. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told a Capitol Hill hearing on Tuesday that computerized trading helped drive the big market plunges on Friday and Monday.

Bina48, developed by the company behind the more outspoken bot Sophia, opened the trading day at the New York Stock Exchange alongside UBS executives. "She" was scarily tough to pick from the others on the podium.

Bina48 stood a little shorter than her neighbors and appeared considerably less enthusiastic. But otherwise, the robot blended right in — to an uncomfortable degree for some.

"We invited Bina48, one of the world's most advanced social robots, to join us at the bell ringing to show a physical representation of the concepts of machine learning and artificial intelligence that are transforming financial markets and investment strategies," a UBS spokesperson said in an email to CNBC.

Bina48 is actually just a head and bust mounted on a frame, and is modeled after Bina Aspen, wife of technology entrepreneur Martine Rothblatt, according to the website for the humanoid's creators, Hanson Robotics.

Hanson Robotics BINA48 robot.
Source: Hanson Robotics
Hanson Robotics BINA48 robot.

"BINA48 engages in conversation with other humans, such as offering an emotional account of her brother's personality changes after returning home from the Vietnam War," the site says.

It's not the robot's first shot at the limelight. Bina48 was interviewed by a New York Times reporter in 2010 and has appeared at several TED events.

Bina48's sister-of-sorts, Sophia, has captured the headlines more recently, though, poking fun at Elon Musk and discussing artificial intelligence with CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin.

Spokespeople for the NYSE and Hanson Robotics were not immediately available for comment.