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Chapter 2
Alternate Technology

But, Who Will Teach The Children?

by MAJUMDER SAKRASHUMINDERATHER, Alternate Reality News Service Education Writer

The smoke has yet to clear at the Edward Bernays Junior High School, but already the recriminations are flying.

Last December, seventh grade student Ellie May Bullthrump, taking a standardized math quiz, used her pencil to scrawl on her bubble form: “What does the value of angle x matter when we’re brutally occupying foreign nations for their oil?”

An investigation by Edward Bernays Principle Sean Imhotep led to the TeachAll 2100. Using “aggressive interrogation techniques” on other seventh graders in Bullthrump’s class, it quickly became clear that the edubot had strayed far from state sanctioned lessons. Instead of trigonometry, it assigned readings from Noam Chomsky. Instead of geometry, it was teaching environmentalism. It even substituted advanced Machiavelli for basic math.

“It was teaching them anarchy!” Principle Imhotep exclaimed.

Creative Data Solutions, a wholly owned subsidiary of MultiNatCorp, has strongly denied that its edubot could be responsible for the improper lessons. In a harshly worded press release, CDS PR VP Priscilla Mondrian argued that, “There is no way that a computer that was programmed to teach children that the angle of a triangle is equal to the root of the squares of the other two angles could teach them that the USA PATRIOT Act, V23 was a fundamental infringement of their Constitutional rights. It just couldn’t happen!”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation would like to unleash a pack of forensic programmers on the suspect TeachAll 2100 unit, but CDS has resisted its efforts, claiming intellectual property rights. “If we let just any police force muck about with our edubot,” Mondrian explained, “anybody could end up having access to our proprietary software. Then, there would be no telling what the unit would teach!”

The FBI is considering a court challenge to the law that allows CDS to do this. Copyright law versus law enforcement: it would be a fascinating subject to investigate. Unfortunately, it’s not the subject of this article.

Parents of students at Edward Bernays are up in arms about the problem edubot. “Oh, I wouldn’t say up in arms,” Amanda Orff-White, father of two children at the school, commented. “More, mildly baffled and gently concerned. The thing is, you see, we want to know if our children could have been taught subversive ideas by this…machine. I mean, how long has this been going on? How many children have been affected? How are our children going to be able to grow up and take their proper roles in society if they’re taught these heretical concep – oh, my god, I should be really, really concerned about this, shouldn’t I?”

As we said, parents are up in arms.

Soon after the story broke two days ago, a shadowy organization called the National Educators Association released a scratchy video on YouTube claiming responsibility for the edubot’s actions. “We hacked into… [inaudible]. Education isn’t about turning out human robots to… [inaudible] …ace in society. It’s about teaching… [inaudible] …to think. Critical thinking is critical to our survival. Cri – [tape ends].”

“Oh, I hope they weren’t responsible,” Principle Imhotep sighed. “I mean, my six year old could make a better video than that, and he has shingles!”

The TeachAll 2100 is an all-purpose edubot. It stands around six feet tall, and comes with a 20 terabyte memory, in which lessons for a wide variety of classes at all levels from kindergarten to university can be stored. The TeachAll 2100 has a stomache and chest that fold out into a 30 inch wide screen plasma television set for video playback.

The edubot has been standard in classrooms for over a decade, ever since it replaced the TeachAll 2000. Its purpose is to ensure that standardized curriculum is taught in a standardized way. As the CDS Web site states: “Human teachers won’t teach the same material the same way twice. They’re human. What are you going to do? For a truly standardized curriculum, taught exactly the same way every time, it takes a TeachAll 2100 edubot.”

Before it was deactivated by CDS pending an internal investigation, the TeachAll 2100 told a reporter from the Sacramento Bees Knees: “I have done nothing wrong.” Whether it was claiming that it hadn’t taught the children anything beyond the established curriculum or that it felt there was nothing wrong with teaching them lessons that had not been approved by the Ministry of Education was unclear.

Not that a robot can feel anything, of course.

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