In a recent post I alluded to the convergence of South Korea's robotics industry with its advanced digital networks and the online game industry. These developments relate directly to the challenge Korea faces to become more competitive in software and content, versus hardware. As evidence of the nation's need to make this shift, the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning has encouraged corporations to place more emphasis on software. In response, SK Telecom began a pilot project last year and, as reported by The Korea Bizwire, "... has just announced that it would launch a Smart Robot Coding School, a program for software education by utilizing its smart robots, Albert and Atti. The operator recognized the importance of education in the course of developing smart robots using smartphones as its brain, which made the company come up with its own curriculum including software programming programs for starters, application use for programming, and smart robots operated by the application. The curriculum operated by SK Telecom has 12 steps from the basic stage for beginners to code computer programs by using the application to the advanced level to develop various applied computer programs related to other subjects such as Korean language, music and mathematics." SK Telecom also plans to export the program and its robots to Taiwan through a company there.
A key issue here is whether the program by SK and other similar programs in Korea will succeed in sparking interest among students in the possibility of a career as a software engineer or computer programmer. These days, interest in those fields seems to be lagging, even though efficient and smoothly running software code underlies all of the broadband and mobile "smart" services that people increasingly depend upon.