The UK parliament has announced its plans to receive evidence about the future impact of AI on labor markets from a robot. The robot in question, named Pepper, was developed by Softbank, a Japanese tech company and is part of a global campaign to create culturally-aware robots primarily capable of caring for older people.
Since the announcement, the parliament has faced harsh criticism from many for essentially hosting a publicity stunt. AI's effect on the labor market will present a big issue in coming years as it is set to completely disrupt job markets on a multitude of levels. The idea of having a robot testify, according to one researcher in the MIT Technology Review, is pointless because "modern robots are not intelligent and so can't testify in any meaningful way".
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However, Robert Halfon MP, chair of the House of Commons Education Select Committee, said: "With experts predicting that jobs will be lost to automation in the near future, the inquiry topic was important.
"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 added.
Pepper the robot is set to discuss its work with students from Middlesex University as well as its work with primary level children. The committee is hoping to use its testimony to assess the possible role robotics can play in future workplaces and classrooms.