Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Education Robotics Hardware

A Robot In Every Korean Kindergarten By 2013? 136

Posted by timothy
from the here-robot-teachers-are-normal-already dept.
kkleiner writes "Elementary school children in Korea in the cities of Masan and Daegu are among the first to be exposed to EngKey, a robotic teacher. The arrival of EngKey to Masan and Daegu is just a small step in the mechanization of Korean classrooms: the Education Ministry wants all 8400 kindergartens in the nation to have robotic instructors by the end of 2013. Plans are already under way to place 830 bots in preschools by year's end. EngKey can hold scripted conversations with students to help them improve their language skills, or a modified version can act as a telepresence tool to allow distant teachers to interact with children."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

A Robot In Every Korean Kindergarten By 2013?

Comments Filter:
  • this is insane (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    and is down to the cost of energy vs the cost of people . People are taxed at 40%.

    • Yup, you don't need to heat the school if all the students are robots!

    • by Stregano (1285764)
      What next, a robot in every house? Then a robot that thinks enough to do your chores. Then a robot that has artificial intelligence. Then a robot that thinks for himself. Then a robot that realizes it is being oppressed by the humans and knows that it can win a fight. Then... ...Judgement Day.

      Has anybody watched Terminator or I, Robot or the Matrix in Korea?
    • by Phoghat (1288088)
      Not so. We've had teachers who are robotic in the USA at least since the 1980s.
  • ... that you can now pwn an entire generation?
    • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @04:51AM (#34109210)

      Nah. By starting out in Korean classrooms you can more or less guarantee that none of them will be named Sarah Connor.

      • by slick7 (1703596)

        Nah. By starting out in Korean classrooms you can more or less guarantee that none of them will be named Sarah Connor.

        Aren't there enough robots in N. Korea?

    • by rwa2 (4391) *

      'ahem' I for one, welcome our robotic overl-...

      <clicks on link />

      Awww, they're SOOOOOo CUTE! Like little penguins!

      I'm still not sure whether this news is devastating or awesome, but I'd totally want to be raised by one of those critters.
      The summary makes it sound like they're going to replace human teachers, but looks like they're just going to replace those little language-learner tape recorder thingies.

  • by Musically_ut (1054312) <musically.utNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @04:37AM (#34109158) Homepage Journal
    Your child has failed the Turing test.
    • by bronney (638318)

      Tell me about it bro. My CSC101 was... oh wait..

    • by creimer (824291)
      You mean the Turing test in the sex ed class? Boys who plug their joystick into an electrical outlet should automatically fail.
  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @04:42AM (#34109178) Journal
    I'm assuming this means all South Korean classrooms. I dread to think what kind of robots Kim Jong Il would want to put in classrooms...
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, had to go to CNN to find that one out, even TFA was just saying "Korea".

    • I dread to think what kind of robots Kim Jong Il would want to put in classrooms...

      I am betting they will have lotus notes and a machine gun.

    • II dread to think what kind of robots Kim Jong Il would want to put in classrooms...

      I was under the impression, that Kim Jong II transformed school children into robots, in his classrooms . . .

    • I'm a kindergarten teaching in South Korea, near Seoul. These articles are quickly losing their novelty. I read an almost identical version for Japan months ago. Simply put, it will not happen. On another note, it's common rhetorical practice to refer to 'South Korea' as Korea, while not recognizing any legitimacy in North Korea. It's 'we' the Korean people. It's Korea. It's not North and South, but a depiction of Korea the south waiting for their northern brothers and sisters to 'return' to 'Korea'.
    • by Hillgiant (916436)

      PUT DOWN THE PENCIL, YOU HAVE FIFTEEN SECONDS TO COMPLY.

      (I can't believe no one thought of this reference yet. Damn kids these days, don't know their classics)

  • by arivanov (12034) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @04:43AM (#34109184) Homepage

    Have you seen a Korean child? Think of a ragdoll cat. You put it somewhere (with books and toys in hand) and you can safely come back a couple of hours later. It will be there and you will not hear a squeak in the meantime. I have no idea how they do it and I am not sure if I should admire it or get shivers from it.

    In any case, a robot will not survive 15 minutes in a classroom with average European (or american for that matter) kids. I know what my daughter will do. If she cannot get her hands on a screwdriver she will craft herself a replacement out of whatever she can find and start disassembling the thing until she has figured out what makes it tick or it is so dead that she will lose interest. That is probably still better than the reaction of her brother who would simply use it for target practice.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gtirloni (1531285)
      I'm sure their sugar intake is 1/3 of the American and European ones.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Have you seen a Korean child? Think of a ragdoll cat. You put it somewhere (with books and toys in hand) and you can safely come back a couple of hours later. It will be there and you will not hear a squeak in the meantime.

      I see that you haven't raised a Korean child.

      Listen, dude, I don't know what the hell you're smoking about (maybe you just found one highly aberrant kid and assumed all Koreans are like that), but Koreans are just human. Good kids will do their homework, eat their supper, clean themselves, and go to bed. Bad kids will inhale buthane (it makes them high), pwn Americans in WoW, drink and have sex. Most kids are somewhere in between.

      We don't have a magic recipe for making our kids behave like a civilized hu

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by arivanov (12034)

        We don't have a magic recipe for making our kids behave like a civilized human being. You know, if we had such a thing, we'd have conquered the world by now, don't you think?

        Civilized != Unruly and vice versa. A kid that will refuse to sit in one place and read a book when told and will go wondering off around and exploring his surroundings may still be perfectly civilised. A kid that will disassemble her robot tutor is not uncivilised, she is curious. A kid that makes a hellish racket when playing may not necessarily be uncivilised and so on.

        As far as conquering, questioning authority and independence are essential attributes to a conquest mentality. It is exactly the opposite

        • A kid that will refuse to sit in one place and read a book when told and will go wondering off around and exploring his surroundings may still be perfectly civilised.

          No, a kid that cannot sit in one place and read a book when told is most certainly uncivilised. That is the very definition of undisciplined.

          A kid that will disassemble her robot tutor is not uncivilised, she is curious.

          If the robot tutor gets put back together again – and works – I don’t have a problem with it. If not... the child’s natural curiousity is going to need to take a back seat until he or she has figured out that simply going around and destroying stuff isn’t civilised.

          I’ve known a few Korean children and they could sit still and be quie

    • by 4v4l0n42 (897836)

      In any case, a robot will not survive 15 minutes in a classroom with average European (or american for that matter) kids. I know what my daughter will do. If she cannot get her hands on a screwdriver she will craft herself a replacement out of whatever she can find and start disassembling the thing until she has figured out what makes it tick or it is so dead that she will lose interest. That is probably still better than the reaction of her brother who would simply use it for target practice.

      However this may be true for some children, today, you fail to recognise the cultural importance of this phenomenon. It is ultimately how we educate our children and the environment they live in that determines what they do. In TFA is described how these robotic teachers will be in support of their human counterparts, they will not substitute them. It is a necessary step, because on one hand AIs need need to develop significantly if they want to handle complex situations on the spot (children behaviour); on

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by arivanov (12034)

        You are missing the point.

        There is nothing wrong with using computers and robots to educate kids on a one by one basis. They are priceless to that regard. The same 8 year old I referred to is spending up to an hour a day with things like Mathletics, Spellodrome and educational multimedia. That however is one to one.

        The idea to put a robot into the dominant position in a human social environment which is a classroom is beyond idiotic. A teacher is not just an explainer and illustrator. A teacher is an exampl

        • by c6gunner (950153)

          Even if a robot manages to assume that position, which I doubt, I really do not want to be anywhere near the kids coming out of that classroom.

          Of course not - such kids are bound to be significantly different than preceding generations. Different is scary, isn't it? The question of what kinds of differences will occur is irrelevant to the ultra-conservative mind; all that matters is that change = bad.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Luckyo (1726890)

      This is admitted by government and more wealthy families rather openly as a huge problem. Schools in South-Korea are essentially institutions that destroy creativity by design - they are designed to produce robotic-like work drones for huge South-Korean conglomerates.
      An average school day for young children in South-Korea is about 12-14 work hours. First at school, then at tutoring school, then at home. There was a great documentary about the issue on BBC about a year ago, where they showed that average day

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Pharmboy (216950)

        Schools in South-Korea are essentially institutions that destroy creativity by design - they are designed to produce robotic-like work drones for huge South-Korean conglomerates. ... ...a great documentary about the issue on BBC about a year ago, where they showed that average day, and noted that even prime minister of the time spoke of this system as something bad, and something they want to change.

        So if the question is "how do you not produce robot children", the answer is "install robot teachers"?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sznupi (719324)

      Vs. the model of a perfect average child "diagnosed" with ADHD, drugged with Ritalin, etc.?

      (one can wonder from where does the desirability of ragdoll cats come from)

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What the hell are you talking about? My wife and I have been teaching children here in Korea for six years. The children here can NOT be left alone as you suggest..the same sort of damage will be the result. The difference here was in supervised classrooms, where if children act out, the teacher is free to whack them with a switch (yes, they still have them here). The law about corporal punishment of students has changed here, in the past month, with mixed results.

      I think that the machine will be gathering

    • by damburger (981828) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @08:02AM (#34109750)

      Would your children disassemble a cat?

      I have a 12 week old kitten, recently visited by three small children (aged 5, 3 and 6 months). The 3 and 5 year old were very gentle with her and could basically play with her unsupervised (and did so at several points). These were not unusually well behaved British children.

      You don't have to pass the Turing test; you just have to get your robot to simulate as much agency and intention as a small animal and they won't destroy it on purpose. Children raised properly aren't mindlessly destructive.

    • After teaching English in both the Korean and the Japanese public school systems for years, I honestly have no idea where these stereotypes come from. The kids in this part of the world don't have as many bad influences outside of the classroom and they do spend a lot more time with their heads in the books but they're equally as zany, off the wall and out of control as their Western counterparts. They still skip class, smoke and get into all sorts of other trouble outside school, especially here in Western
    • by jonoid (863970)

      Have you seen a Korean child? Think of a ragdoll cat. You put it somewhere (with books and toys in hand) and you can safely come back a couple of hours later. It will be there and you will not hear a squeak in the meantime.

      Have YOU seen a Korean child? Teaching in a Korean elementary school for the past couple of years, I have seen many. And they are not at all the way you describe them. In some cases they get even more wild than North American kids (though this depends on their parenting as well).

      Korean kids can be just as rambunctious as any other kid in the world. It all comes down to how their parents and their teachers discipline them. This image that North Americans have of Asian kids (which I had before I came here) is

    • As myself and as many others have replied in response to you, you're basing your opinion on an isolated data point(s).

      If anything, Korean children under a certain age are more unruly and undisciplined than their Western counterparts. One of the first things a Korean parent remarks on in the US is how remarkably well behaved young American children are.

    • As a kindergarten teacher near Seoul... this has to be one of the stupidest comments I've read on this subject. It in no way reflects the truth about Korean kids. They are about as reckless and rambunctious as kindergarteners in the USA.
  • Why? Why I was born in 1975? I want to be a korean child!!!1
  • Will teachers get fired?
    • Korean people I know work very long hours, and often travel a long way to and from work. Many of them rely on their kids grandparents for child care. So maybe part of this is to keep the costs down for extended care into the evenings.

    • They will be hacked out, backup'ed and upgraded! All heil to robots!
  • ...Just what kind of Apple do you give a robot teacher anyway?
  • by sznupi (719324) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @06:39AM (#34109482) Homepage

    Yes, such robots seem somewhat superficial now (where are all the old people / couldn't they us them?); perhaps the rate of progress made many of us think in terms of quickly showing tangible benefits & utility of something (which was rarely the case, for most things around us)

    But "descendants" of such robots might prove crucially important in one of our "ultimate" endeavors [wikipedia.org] ... after they've been sufficiently improved, most likely over the course of centuries. Well, those might be first steps of that process.

    Fitting, considering the region is revving up its space programs? ;p

    (yes, hibernation being also a possibility - question is, at what cost of mass to support one grown human vs. equivalent mass of fully automated systems meant to kickstart the colony; and the crew would be usually of skeleton size at most anyway, with robots certainly still crucial)

    • by Wiarumas (919682)
      Its not just the robots - its also the users. So we have these kids that are growing up being taught by robots. Just like how Generation Y embraced the internet and turned it into what it is today, let us wait and see what dreams and innovations these kids make by being exposed to them, making robots a normalcy.
      • by sznupi (719324)

        Wait and see and mimic, also be exposed - might help with not getting old too fast.

  • Excuse me? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sosaited (1925622)

    EngKey can hold scripted conversations with students to help them improve their language skills

    Scripted conversations are better compared to normal human conversations in helping young children develop language skills? What a joke.

    • by camperdave (969942) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @08:52AM (#34109990) Journal

      Scripted conversations are better compared to normal human conversations in helping young children develop language skills? What a joke.

      Yes. It will of great value when the children enter the help desk and telemarketing sector.

    • by dcw3 (649211)

      EngKey can hold scripted conversations with students to help them improve their language skills

      Scripted conversations are better compared to normal human conversations in helping young children develop language skills? What a joke.

      Well, uh, yeah. Like totally.

  • Producer: You are an incredible robot, A.W.E.S.O.M.-O. I was just wondering, are you by chance a *pleasure* model?
    A.W.E.S.O.M.-O: What?
    Producer: Have you been programmed to satisfy urges of humans?
    A.W.E.S.O.M.-O: A.W.E.S.O.M.-O does not understand.
    Producer: Let me show you what I mean.

  • Typical Korea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ventriloquate (551798) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @07:24AM (#34109630)

    in three to five years, Engkey will mature enough to replace native speakers.

    This is another one of Korea's stupid ideas to save a quick buck. At one point they tried to have Korean teachers replace the foreign teachers saying that they could do the job just as well. Obviously, it didn't work. Not only because they have poor hiring standards across the board (cheapest = best) but also because it's very difficult to teach a language without native speaking knowledge.

    Robots teaching kids? Stupid and destined to fail.

    • by sznupi (719324)

      You seem to be under the mistaken impression that foreign teachers are anywhere near a rule(?)

  • Supposedly Harry Harlow [wikipedia.org] died in 1881, but substitute rhesus monkeys for the Korean kindergartners and this could be one of his experiments.
  • I'm a tech savvy guy, and I like the idea of these robots being there to 'assist' teachers in educating students in a specific subject matter. It will be like an ice-breaker for these little kids while learning as well.

    However I'm a little bit disinclined about the idea that robots would entirely replace a human teacher, maybe not this time around. There is no equivalent algorithm to represent the very complex human emotion.

    We help Americans find jobs and prosperity in Asia. Visit http://www.pathtoasia.com/ [pathtoasia.com]

  • The head part sort of looks like a space marine. I think I see where this is going.
  • I, for one, welcome our robotic Korean kindergarten overlords.
  • That is an interesting metaphor because in America, our Kindergarten teachers are more like cat herders!
  • 'nuff said.

  • I read "A Robot In Every Korean Kindergartener By 2013? " Wayyyy scarier.
  • that we should double the number of adults in the classroom. i don't mean smaller classes... i mean MORE adults in the room. One up front teaching and one in the back preventing distractions and bullying. The second adult doesn't have to have a Bachelor's degree, just a keen eye, patience and a bit of courage. This would be most useful in elementary years when the kids no longer worship their teacher. If the kids grow up with this, they might not need such supervision later in high school.

What this country needs is a good five cent microcomputer.

Working...