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Pepper becomes the first robot to give evidence at the House of Commons

15/10/2018
Middlesex’s robot Pepper gives evidence to the House of Commons Education Select Committee’s inquiry into the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Pepper, one of Middlesex’s resident robots, made history on 16 October 2018 by becoming the first robot to answer questions from the Education Committee during a session on the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the implications for education of developments in artificial intelligence.

Joined by Middlesex’s Executive Dean of Science and Technology, Professor Martin Loomes; Babak Jahanbani, General Manager at world-leading technical education equipment and solution provider Festo Didactic; and two MDX engineering and computer science students, Joana Da Cunha Miranda and Nicholas James Fitton, Pepper talked about how a new way of thinking is needed by tomorrow’s workers to get the most from technological innovation.

“The challenge will be having an education system that can adapt to rapid evolution and support lifelong learning. At Middlesex University we have been among the first to invest heavily in technology such as compliant robots capable of integration into social settings and a manufacturing 4.0 cyber-factory, and we are pioneering curriculum approaches that use this environment for problem-based, skills-focused learning to the full.”
Professor Martin Loomes, Middlesex University

Professor Loomes emphasised that education systems must adapt to the speed of advances in technology and their implications. Middlesex is a university that is agile and responsive to these changes, and has invested heavily in teaching methods that will enable students to develop key skills to adapt and innovate in the changing workplace.

Professor Loomes said, “Predicting the future, the role that technology will play, and the impact on people is notoriously hard. Injecting technology into situations changes them and the roles that people will play will evolve accordingly.

“A traditional view of robots is that they will automate simple, repetitive tasks on a production line. The development of robots like Pepper shows that robots may well be integrated into more social settings.

“The challenge will be having an education system that can adapt to rapid evolution and support lifelong learning. At Middlesex University we have been among the first to invest heavily in technology such as compliant robots capable of integration into social settings and a manufacturing 4.0 cyber-factory, and we are pioneering curriculum approaches that use this environment for problem-based, skills-focused learning to the full.”

Middlesex University is committed to developing teaching methods that equip students for their working lives and is keen to move away from the traditional division between academic and technical routes. This arbitrary split does not reflect the reality of the emerging jobs and skills landscape. Academics at Middlesex are continually developing ways of thinking which reflect the fusing of technologies. For example, our Building Information Modelling Management programmes bring together areas of engineering, construction, management and smart environments in ways not imagined before. The economy needs graduates who are equipped to tackle this technological convergence and drive value from technology as innovators, creators and lifelong learners.

Click here to find out more about courses in the Faculty of Science and Technology.

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