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Robot addresses British MPs over future of AI

Published on 18/10/18 at 12:59pm

British MPs questioned the first robot to ever attend a UK parliamentary meeting this month, after a robot called Pepper offered insight into the future of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The robot told MPs that “Assistive intelligent robots for older people could relieve pressure on hospitals and care homes as well as improve the care delivery at home and promote independent living for the elderly people.”

“In order for robots to become more acceptable to older people, it is essential that they can be programmed to adapt to diverse backgrounds. The project will expand my capabilities and aims to reduce pressure on healthcare services.”

However the Middlesex University automaton added that: “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.”

Nevertheless Pepper failed to impress Professor Michael Wooldridge, head of AI at Oxford University, who described the robot as an “embarrassing gimmick,” to the BBC. The professor further suggested that Pepper gave AI “a bad name”.

Both the MPs questions and the robot’s answers were pre-arranged before the session occurred.

However Pepper’s creators, the Japanese multinational SoftBank Robotics, noted that “Pepper is well equipped with features and a high level interface for communicating with those around him. Pepper analyses expressions and voice tones using the latest advances in voice recognition.”

Louis Goss

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