It certainly didn’t take long for the other AI shoe to drop, what with some of the emerging technology already being twisted to create trust scams and generate spam content. We can now add censorship to that list as the Globe Gazette reports the school board in Mason City, Iowa has begun using AI technology to develop lists of potentially bannable books from district libraries ahead of the 2023/24 school year.
In May, the Republican-controlled state legislature passed, and then Governor Kim Reynolds signed, Senate File 496 (SF 496), which implemented sweeping changes to the state’s education curriculum. It specifically limits what books can be used in school libraries and classrooms, requiring that titles be “age appropriate” and contain “descriptions or visual depictions of a work of sex,” according to Iowa Code 702.17.
But making sure that every book in the district’s archives followed these new rules quickly became a huge task. “Our classroom and school libraries have extensive collections, consisting of purchased, donated, and found texts,” said Bridgette Exman, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction at the Mason City Community School District. , in a statement. “It’s just not possible to read every book and filter for these new requirements.”
As such, the Mason City School District brought in AI to parse suspect texts for prohibited ideas and descriptions because there are too many titles for human reviewers to cover on their own. Each district, a “master list” is first compiled from “multiple sources” based on whether there have been previous complaints of sexual content. Books from that list are then scanned by “AI software” that tells state censors if the book contains actual depictions of sex.
“Frankly, we have more important things to do than spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to protect children from books,” Exman said. PopSci by email. “At the same time, we have a legal and ethical obligation to obey the law. Our goal here is a defensible process. “
So far, the AI has flagged 19 books for deletion. They are as follows:
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