In October of 2018, Pepper, a resident robot at Middlesex University became the first robot to present at a UK parliamentary meeting. Pepper provided evidence to the Education Committee regarding the impact robotics and artificial intelligence technologies have on education. The robot is designed for student applied research projects for elderly care and helping children with special needs, with a specific focus on its ‘soft skill’’ abilities.
The Middlesex University robot demonstrated the co-operation of a technology company and an educational institution and showed what applied research in this area looks like, which was the topic of inquiry during the session. AI and robotics are progressing rapidly around the world, which means that integrating technology and education to prepare a suitable workforce is a topic of discussion in every country. How do educational institutions augment their STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs to better prepare students for work in the digital age? Which technology companies should be paired with which universities and how is this process designed for future economies? Which companies get access to essentially free research and design? And, If applied research and business integrate with STEM programs further, could a gap between the digitally experienced STEM students and the liberal arts, trades, and fine arts students divide segment workforces both locally and globally?