Published in AI

AI being used to ban books

by on15 August 2023

Fahrenheit 451

A Mason City school board is so lazy that it has outsourced its book banning to AI.

The board had so many things that it wanted to ban, but the only problem is that it would have to read each book to see if there were any objectionable contents.

Reading would always be tricky, particularly if the book banners were going to find something to be outraged about ahead of the 2023/24 school year.

Mason City Community School District assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction Bridgette Exman said: "Our classroom and school libraries have vast collections, consisting of texts purchased, donated, and found. Reading every book and filtering for these new requirements is simply not feasible."

Enter AI trained to parse suspect texts for banned ideas and descriptions. A "master list" is first cobbled together from "several sources" based on whether there were previous complaints of sexual content.  The board did not say where the master list came from, but we suspect it was the usual perfectly ordinary collection of retired generals, pastors, priests, nuns, and, of course, loonies.  

We note that The Handmaiden’s Tale, which tells the story of a right-wing Christian utopia where women are second-class citizens for men is on the list.  We suspect that if the author had made it a story where everyone was happy, there would have been no problem.  Another title is the Colour Purple which is about slavery, which is being banned because some white people in the US find the subject uncomfortable to talk about.

Books from that list are then scanned by "AI software". So far, the AI has flagged 19 books for removal. The list includes

Last modified on 15 August 2023
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