London, UK : The UK parliament will have its first humanoid robot showing up next week and giving evidence about artificial intelligence (AI) and its impact on the future labor market according to a press release from the UK committee.
Pepper the robot, developed by the Japanese tech giant Softbank, is one part of an international research project developing the world’s first culturally-aware robots aimed at assisting with care for older people.
“With experts predicting that jobs will be lost to automation in the near future, the inquiry topic was important,” chair of the Committee Robert Halfon told the media.
“This is not about someone bringing an electronic toy robot and doing a demonstration. It’s about showing the potential of robotics and artificial intelligence and the impact it has on skills,” he said.
The news has created a heated discussion online and among the experts in the AI research community.
Many of them argued that it is just a media stunt. From their point of view, Pepper at this stage doesn’t have the ability to give evidence, the answers that come out from the robot are preprogrammed by the researchers from Middlesex University.
As one researcher told MIT Technology Review, “Modern robots are not intelligent and so can’t testify in any meaningful way.”
But whether it is a hype or not, Pepper will get the chance to talk with the Committee about her work with students across the faculties at Middlesex University, including a project involving teaching primary level children, and what role robotics may play in the workplace and classrooms of the future, according to the schedule posted on the parliament website.
The Committee will then assess how robots can be used to support learning, and the skills needed to adapt to the growth in artificial intelligence and automation based on Pepper’s demonstration.