Mason City schools using A.I. to comply with state law

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(ABC 6 News) – This Spring, Iowa lawmakers approved a new law requiring public schools to remove all books with descriptions or visual depictions of a sex act, not including religious texts.

Educators across the state are still waiting for guidance on what specific books need to be taken off the shelves, according to Mason City Community Schools Assistant Superintended Bridgette Exman.

To make things a bit easier, Exman put the titles of commonly challenged books through Chat GPT, an artificial intelligence tool, to see if the books comply with the law.

“Chat GPT almost always came back with what I would characterize as a ‘yes but’ answer. Yes, but it serves as a literary purpose, or yes, but it’s used in this context, and unfortunately, the law doesn’t give us a ‘yes but.’ The law just gets a yes and if its a yes, it has to go.” says Exman.

Exman adds it’s a quick and easy way to make sure the school is following the law, and it allows educators to focus on getting ready for the new school year.

“Our goal here was to be efficient and to demonstrate a good faith effort to be in compliance with the law. That is our legal and ethical obligation as a school district, regardless of what our personal feelings are about the law,” explains Exman.

As for parents, Exman says they have always had the ability to review books or curriculum.