The future around the world
Robot teachers are here; flying cars next?
Not to incite mass hysteria or anything, but robots may be taking over the world. Yes, it's already spiraled madly out of control in South Korea where 'bots have replaced teachers.
The “Engkey” robots (imagine a rounder version of Eva from WALL-E) started in late December at elementary schools in the southeastern city of Daegu. The 'bots are about 3.3 feet tall and have a TV screen displaying a Caucasian woman’s face.
These aren’t just a novel use of technology: They’re serious money-savers. English teachers in the Philippines remotely control the robots.
"Well-educated, experienced Filipino teachers are far cheaper than their counterparts elsewhere, including South Korea," said Sagong Seong-Dae, a senior scientist at Korea Institute of Science of Technology (KIST).
Cameras detect the Filipino teachers' expressions and reflect them on the robot’s avatar. In addition to reading books aloud, the robots sing songs and play English-learning games with the young children.
"The kids seemed to love it since the robots look, well, cute and interesting. But some adults also expressed interest, saying they may feel less nervous talking to robots than a real person," Kim Mi-Young, an official at Daegu city's education office told Fox News.
A parent-teacher conference with a three-foot tall robot might take some getting used to. For now the ‘bots only serve to back up human teachers.
Officials will consider hiring them full-time if scientists can make appropriate upgrades to make them cheaper and easier to handle. Currently the robots cost 10 million won each (about US $8,700), part of a 1.58 billion won (US $1.37 million) government project.