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MPs to quiz robot about education

Pepper the robot will appear as a witness in Commons committee's inquiry into the fourth industrial revolution

A robot will appear before the Commons education select committee

Pepper the robot will appear as a witness in Commons committee's inquiry into the fourth industrial revolution

A robot is to be quizzed by MPs about the fourth industrial revolution and what it means for education.

Pepper the robot, from Middlesex University, has been included on the witness list for the Commons Education Select Committee’s evidence session taking place next week.

As a witness, he is listed on the committee's website as "Pepper, robot".

Committee chair Robert Halfon told Tes that with experts predicting that jobs will be lost to automation in the near future, the inquiry topic was important.

“If we’ve got the march of the robots, we perhaps need the march of the robots to our select committee to give evidence," Mr Halfon said.

He said that the details of how Pepper would interact with the committee were still being worked out. But he believed it was the first time that a robot had appeared before a select committee.

Rise of the robots

“If you think we are going to be the living version of the Matrix, it is not going to be like that,” he said. “But I think it will be exciting, interesting and it’s basically showing what the potential is."

And he added that the committee very much hoped it would give evidence and help with the inquiry.

“The fourth industrial revolution is possibly the most important challenge facing our nation over the next 10, 20 to 30 years," said Mr Halfon.

“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.”

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