The Mason City Community School District in Iowa is removing 19 books from school libraries that administrators found contained “a description or depiction of a sexual act” to comply with Republican-backed state laws. One key arbiter of whether the books should be banned: ChatGPT.
The news that the district had used AI software in its decisions was first reported by the Mason City Globe Gazette last weekbut it was not clear which tool was used, or how exactly the officials did it, until popular science reported that ChatGPT was used. Banned books include The kite flyer by Khaled Hosseini, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and I know why the caged bird sings by Maya Angelou.
According popular scienceIn the report, administrators entered the query: “Does (Book) contain a description or depiction of a sexual act?” on ChatGPT for every book that is commonly questioned.
“If the answer is yes, the book will be withdrawn from circulation and placed in storage,” said Bridgette Exman, Mason City assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. popular science.
Exman told the outlet that it was impossible for the district to read every potential book on the list to look for instances that might violate a sweeping state law promulgated in May. Even with the new school year just around the corner, many educators and districts say the state has not provided clear guidelines on how to implement changes in the curriculum.
Mason City administrators say they had experience teaching some of the books and “ran (the list) through” a librarian after retrieving responses using ChatGPT. But the responses generated by the tool are sometimes contradictory based on how users request and query the software. When the edge entered the list of 19 books banned by the Mason City school district into ChatGPT and asked if they contained explicit or sexual scenes, the software indicated that several did not contain such content.
exman said the edge that the district began assembling the initial list of commonly banned books using sources such as news articles and Wikipedia and then narrowed it down to around 50 titles that were present in the library’s collection. Exman then tested each of the 50 books once using ChatGPT. Although Exman has not heard from other administrators addressing the issue using these methods, other districts have reached out.
“Our intent is to demonstrate a good faith effort to comply with the law without redirecting time and energy that we should be using to focus on preparing to welcome our teachers and students back to another school year,” Exman said. the edge in an email. “Our goal was to find an efficient process to start the year with the intention of relying on our longstanding process that allows parents to ask the district to reconsider. Books that are currently on the list can be reconsidered, just as books that are not on the list can be reconsidered.”