Is the AI a bull*** artist?

Seems like.

One of the 3 robot papers turned in to me this semester discusses the essay I Just Wanna Be Average,” Mike Rose’s account of being placed in the vocational track of his Catholic high school after his IQ scores were mixed up with those of another student also named Rose.

The AI gets everything flat wrong:

Rose explains that he was placed in this track because he had scored poorly on aptitude tests, even though he had a strong academic record and was interested in pursuing higher education (Rose, 2017, p. 313).

Number one: Rose scored well on his IQ test, not “poorly.” Two years later, when a teacher discovered the mistake, he was moved to the college track, and the mix-up is key to the story. Rose wasn’t a studious kid whose life was ruined because he flubbed an aptitude test. Just the opposite.

Number two: Rose didn’t have “a strong academic record.” He’d been a good reader in grade school, but he makes it clear he never gained traction in math or science. In high school he “destested” Shakespeare and was “bored” with history. More to the point, the events in Rose’s story take place in 1958, in South Los Angeles, a time (and place) when “strong academic records” weren’t really a thing. A strong academic record at age 13 in 1958 LA: not the zeitgeist.

Number three: Rose had close-to-zero focus on “pursuing higher education.” “I figured I’d get a night job and go to the local junior college,” he writes, “because I knew that Snyder and Company were going there to play ball.” That was it, the sum total of his ambition. Night job, junior college, watch your friends play football. He had no idea what an entrance requirement was, and he did nothing to prepare. His grades “stank.”

So the AI is making it all up, and making it up egregiously wrong to boot. The AI’s take on “I Just Wanna Be Average” is anachronistic start to finish: it reads like contemporary boo-hooing over the horrors of standardized testing and its “embedded” “cultural and economic biases” (these words actually appear in the paper).  

In the really existing essay, just about the only thing Rose has going for him academically is a high IQ as measured by an IQ test. That’s what saves him, that and two teachers who take an interest. It’s the 1950s and Mike Rose is a classic diamond in the rough, identified by a standardized test and plucked off his working-class path by a school that administers the test and tracks its students according to their scores. 

But IQ-test-gives-child-of-immigrants-a-leg-up isn’t the story the AI read. Maybe it’s not a story the AI can read.

To write its text, the AI simply reached into its grab bag of contemporary edu-shibboleths et voila. A college paper that makes no sense at all and isn’t about the thing it’s about.

Artificial intelligence: other posts

And see:
Does the AI cheat, part 1
Does the AI cheat, part 2
Does the AI cheat, part 3
Is the AI a bull**** artist?

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