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English Robots go to Work

We’ve reported on the use of robots to teach English frequently here (and here and here) at UlsanOnline.  And with each article, the invective gets worse and worse. This one really points to the racial discrimination of Koreans in a way that offends me to the core.

The robots, which display an avatar face of a Caucasian woman, are controlled remotely by teachers of English in the Philippines — who can see and hear the children via a remote control system.

Cameras detect the Filipino teachers’ facial expressions and instantly reflect them on the avatar’s face, said Sagong Seong-Dae, a senior scientist at KIST.

“Well-educated, experienced Filipino teachers are far cheaper than their counterparts elsewhere, including South Korea,” he told AFP.

Seriously? To teach English you must have a Caucasian face, but it’s OK to exploit the Filipinos who are far cheaper but not legally allowed to teach English in Korea. That’s undoubtedly some of the worst racial bias I have ever seen in print.You might as well use the N word, Ms. Kim.

… some adults also expressed interest, saying they may feel less nervous talking to robots than a real person,” said Kim Mi-Young, an official at Daegu city education office.

Ever wonder why some Koreans are shy when speaking to a foreigner? Well, now they needn’t be, unless of course you count the Filipino on the other end as foreigner. Of course you don’t because they aren’t really there and therefore their feelings don’t matter.

And the last paragraph states just how poorly this woman regards foreign English teachers and their human needs, although she doesn’t seem to consider the human needs of the Filipinos behind the monitor:

Plus, they won’t complain about health insurance, sick leave and severance package, or leave in three months for a better-paying job in Japan… all you need is a repair and upgrade every once in a while.

May a computer virus and malware pox descend upon you and your robots, Ms. Kim.

Read the full article here.

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