Weekly Magazine THE STAR

Article THE 171th TERM/ August 20th, 2016/ No. 27

172텀 2016.09.07 19:15 조회 수 : 33

TERM The 171th term 

This Week's Article

Can robot be free?

Mr. Dae-don Kim
Soongsil Univ.

 Years ago, Softbank launched its new humanoid robot Pepper. Pepper has world's best A.I Watson so it can recognize and share human's emotion. Pepper as emotional robot strongly makes sure that a robot will have a strong ego and then finally be intellectual existence.

 Our view for robotics, however, is strict and overbearing. Many people think robot is human's creature and belongs to us as instrument and asset. Three laws of Robotics from "I, Robot" show it very well.
<Three laws of Robotics>

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

 All the robots in the future will have to follow three laws even though it has free-will and ego like human beings. From this point, I just wonder if we take the right from intellectual existence although we are creator of them.

 Let's see the history. Terrible wars have been fought where millions have died for one idea, freedom. Ego and free-will make human overcome suppressed situation. And freedom is something that means so much to so many people would be worth having. To consider human's history, it might be helpful to understand relation with human and robot.
 If robots have ego and free-will, and they seek for freedom, what should we do?  what attitude should we take? When the age of exploration, Caucasian conquered America and Africa. They took people's freedom, and then made slave and treated them as an asset. If we treat existence with an ego as an asset, what on earth is it different from Slave?
 More discussions are needed but at least we have to recognize it before age of robot comes. It seems too early to consider what robot is because robotic technology still has a long way to go. I think, however, it is worth considering.

Word check
● caucasian [kɔ:|keɪziən;kɔ:|keɪƷn] : A Caucasian person is a white person.

● overbearing [|oʊvər|berɪŋ] : Expecting unquestioning obedience.

● on earth : Used with question words to convey surprise.


1. Do you think it needs to fill ego and free-will into robot?

2. Can we regard a robot with ego and free-will as a human being(인격체)?
Blooming Article

Scorching heat amplifies calls to reform Korea’s power rate system
Edited by Ms. Ye-lim Lee

 Amid sweltering heat, South Korea’s electricity rates came under fire Monday, with a growing number of consumers lodging complaints against the system, saying they have been charged heavy bills calculated by an “outdated and unfair” cumulative scheme.

 According to legal sources, more than 2,000 people expressed their intentions to file complaints against the government-controlled Korea Electric Power Corp, demanding the return of money they paid for bills under the progressive billing system.
 Consumers say that KEPCO’s system is unfair as it applies such a cumulative scheme only to household users, not to companies or those registered as business users. Electricity used for industrial purposes, which accounts for more than 50 percent of the nation’s entire power consumption, is not subjected to the cumulative scheme.

 Since the 1970s, KEPCO has charged based on a cumulative scheme in which the unit price for electricity increases along with the amount of electricity used.

 Under the system, prices are determined in six brackets of which the top and bottom rates differ by 11.7 times.

 The system has been put at the center of debate each summer. Despite the heat wave, many consumers say they hesitate to use air conditioning in fear of heavy bills.

 The system has also failed to reflect the growing electricity consumption and changing lifestyle, they added.

 “Power consumption per household has surged along with spending level growing over the years,” said Park Kwang-soo, a senior researcher at Korea Energy Economics Institute said in a radio interview Monday.

 “The purpose of implementing such a system in the early years was to support low-income families that consumed less electricity. But it doesn’t work anymore as the level of power consumption by low-income brackets have increased a lot,” he said.

 The average household electricity use in 1996 was 163 kilowatt-hours, but that soared to 240 kWh in 2014. The percentage of households that spend more than 300 kWh also surged to 28.7 percent two years ago, according to government data.

 The system was adopted in the midst of an oil crisis by the then Park Chung-hee government to cut down on power consumption by imposing higher rates for heavy users. The rationale behind offering cheaper electricity for industrial companies was to encourage their roles in boosting the nation’s economic growth.

 In the face of angry consumers, however, KEPCO said it will comply with the court’s decision if they pursue legal actions. But the company has no authority to change the power rate system, a KEPCO official said.

 “It is not like we can raise or lower the rates. It is wholly controlled by (government) policy. It is inappropriate to have an opinion about complaints,” he said.

Word check

● swelter [|sweltə(r)] : If you swelter, you are very uncomfortable because the weather is extremely hot.

● comply [kəm|plaɪ] : If someone or something complies with an order or set of rules, they are in accordance with what is required or expected.

● rationale [|rӕʃə|nӕl] : The rationale for a course of action, practice, or belief is the set of reasons on which it is based.


1. Do you intentionally worry when using an air conditioner?

2. Have you ever cast a doubt over the current power rate system?