MPs put their questions to a robot who is 'better than some ministers'

Written by Dods staff on 16 October 2018 in Diary

Watch: Select committee chair Robert Halfon led the quizzing of Pepper.

The Commons education select committee has not yet invited the prime minister to give evidence. But did they just get the next best thing after the Maybot?

The education committee is examining the "fourth industrial revolution", which refers to technological developments in several fields. So MPs on the committee interviewed Pepper the robot about the role of technology in classrooms.

Committee chair Robert Halfon welcomed the panel and joked: "This is not the House of Commons education committee auditioning for the sequel to The Matrix."

When committee member James Frith asked the robot what role humans have in the fourth industrial revolution, Pepper told him: “Robots will have an important role to play, but we will always need the soft skills that are unique to humans to sense, make and drive value from technology.

“As technologies fuse and are used in ways that were not envisaged before, a new way of thinking is needed by tomorrow’s workers. We will need people who can spot ideas and think across traditional sector divides to drive value from technological innovation.”

The robot is part of an international research project developing the world’s first culturally aware robots aimed at assisting with care for older people. Pepper also works with students at Middlesex University, which includes an initiative involving teaching primary school-level children.

At the end of the session Labour MP Lucy Powell put the robot’s performance in context.  She said: “First of all, Pepper, I just want say you’re better than some of the ministers we have had before us.”







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