Tuesday, December 28, 2010

To Mrs. McGrath’s Second Grade Class,

Hello. My name is Kang-dae Soon, head programmer for the Engkey robotic teaching device.
I have been asked to clear up some confusion surrounding a recent visit from a malfunctioning Engkey unit to the Lower Grockney School District during a good-will tour from a South Korean elementary school.
Due to a very minor glitch in the translating device that has since been corrected, Engkey made several statements which we would like to correct or otherwise retract, as they do not represent the programmer’s viewpoint or those of Engkey’s parent company, Tyrell Corporation.
Firstly, please allow me to say that Santa Claus is not depicted in Korea as “a many-tentacled horror beyond the limits of human comprehension” and obviously never should have been described as such.
Santa Claus is the same here as anywhere: A walking diabetes risk representing the excesses of Western consumer culture who lives on the moon with a horde of elven slaves.
However, we understand the mistranslation led to a certain amount of consternation among parents and wish to apologize for any night terrors, booby-traps or institutionalizations this might have caused.
(I would additionally stress that other concepts of “Ol’ Saint Nick” described to the class – such as the Norse “Mojlin’ra, Chewer of Souls” – should likewise be discounted as a translating error.)
Allow me also to apologize for any instances of casual racism, profuse swearing or theft that occurred while Engkey was visiting the children. These tendencies commonly manifested as bugs in earlier versions of the robot and were supposed to have been eliminated from later models.
It might seem a small consolation, but please take heart that other bugs – such as routine sexual harassment and protests ending in self-immolation – appear to have been wiped from the operating system (with up to 73 percent efficiency).
It has additionally come to my attention that there was some confusion about Engkey’s answers to mathematics questions. Obviously, projectile vomiting a black, poisonous fluid into the questioner’s face is neither amusing nor technically an answer, and the robot should not have laughed at its victims' reactions to the viscous fluid while taunting the other children with a sharp stick. This was a holdover response from an earlier prototype of the Engkey designed for military use.
Unfortunately, the weaponized anthrax canisters housed in the robot’s chassis were also still set to release upon a specific trigger phrase. In hindsight, that phrase probably should not have been, “Are you a real robot?” (especially taking into consideration the penchant of American children to ask horrendously stupid questions). But as they say, hindsight is 20/20 – which is coincidentally the kill-rate for Engkey robotic military devices.
I would also like to apologize for the wholly unintended response to history questions. When asked about a specific historical figure or event, the robot should offer a helpful hint to guide the child to a correct answer, rather than a violent and profanity-laced tirade about the Japanese stock market. Any semi-cogent diatribes on the societal benefits of cannibalism should likewise be dismissed.
We would additionally like to take this opportunity to extend our deepest condolences on the tragic and unexpected vivisection of the class guinea pig, “Burrito,” during a biology lesson.
Obviously, the creature should have been euthanized prior to the demonstration and, again, we apologize for any nightmares the animal’s screaming and thrashing may have caused.
As to any instances of Engkey teaching children Three-card Monte, pick-pocket skills and/or dirty limericks, rest assured those traits have been eliminated from the programming (with up to 67 percent efficiency).
On behalf of all of us here at Tyrell Corp., I would like to thank Mrs. McGrath’s class, as well as the patient and understanding parents of the Lower Grockney School District, for assisting us in field testing the Engkey robotic teaching device.
Please rest assured each of the many, many deaths strewn in the wake of Engkey development is not in vein, as each “teaching moment” offers ever more insight toward a human-robot utopia we all one day hope to reach.
Yours truly,
Kang-dae Soon,
Tyrell Corp. Robotic Division
Head Programmer, Engkey Teaching Robot
PS. As per the settlement agreement, we would remind all of you that speaking with the press is strictly forbidden and would also like to stress that you are all damn lucky the unit did not become self aware. You’d still be picking pieces of your principal out of your hair and carpeting.


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