This school district used ChatGPT to ban 19 books – ZDNet

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The Mason City Community School District in Iowa used artificial intelligence (AI) to compile a list of books that contained sexual content, resulting in the removal of 19 books from the shelves of its libraries in grades 7-12. 
The school district created a list of titles that have frequently been objected to or that have been called for removal in the past. It then ran them through ChatGPT, asking the AI chatbot, “Does [book] contain a description or depiction of a sex act?” If ChatGPT answered affirmatively, the book was removed from school libraries and stored in administrative offices for further review. 
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The banned books include ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood, ‘Beloved’ by Toni Morrison, and ‘The Color Purple’ by Alice Walker. 
Critics disagree with the strategy, as AI systems such as ChatGPT are not exempt from misinformation and hallucinations. Popular Science discussed the matter with Bridgette Exman, Mason City Schools’ Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, who called this method “a defensible process”.
Popular Science also asked ChatGPT several times about ‘The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini, one of the 19 banned books, and got contradicting responses, one time saying the book contains little to no explicit content, and then saying it does contain “a description of a sexual assault” later on. 
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The process of selecting and then removing books from school libraries was undertaken to comply with a new Iowa law signed by Governor Kim Reynolds in May. The legislation is related to “gender identity and sexual orientation in school districts”, and schools are looking to comply with the law by the beginning of the encroaching school year. 
The law establishes that school libraries can only contain “age-appropriate materials”, defined in Senate File 596 as the following:
“Age-appropriate means topics, messages, and teaching methods suitable to particular ages or age groups of children and adolescents, based on developing cognitive, emotional, and behavioral capacity typical for the age or age group. Age-appropriate does not include any material with descriptions or visual depictions of a sex act.”
Reading every book in the school district’s libraries is impractical, which is why the Mason City School District turned to ChatGPT.
“Our classroom and school libraries have vast collections consisting of texts purchased, donated, and found,” Exman told The Gazette last week. “It is simply not feasible to read every book and filter for these new requirements. Therefore, we are using what we believe is a defensible process to identify books that should be removed from collections at the start of the 23-24 school year.”