A 12-year-old boy was unhappy after he could just score 50 out of 100 in his seventh-grade history test that was taken online. He was worried as he would have to score 100% on all the remaining tests to make up for the low score in history. Like all mothers,
, also consoled her son and tried to cheer him up. But then what Simmons discovered was something really shocking, as per a report The Verge.
Simmons, who is also a history professor, asked her son about the test and where he actually went wrong. Her son revealed the process of the test and said that the moment he submitted his answer, he was awarded a low score of just 50 out of 100. Realising that it is impossible for a real teacher to check a history test instantly and award marks the moment the submit button is hit, Simmons figured that a trained AI is the reason for his son’s low score in the test.
She observed her son while he completed more practice assignments and then went through the correct answers showcased by the test platform called
. She quickly realised, the AI was only relying on certain keywords to award marks. So, no matter whatever you write in the test, as long as the answers exceed a certain word limit and have the desired keywords, the AI will give a high score. So, if the answer that you write matches with the keywords fed in the AI system, you will get a good score.
In an interview with The Verge, she explained the answer to a question: “What was the advantage of Constantinople’s location for the power of the Byzantine empire,’ She said, “So you go through, okay, what are the possible keywords that are associated with this? Wealth, caravan, ship, India, China, Middle East, he just threw all of those words in.” Basically, no matter what you write in your answer, if the keywords in your answer match the ones fed to the AI system, you will get full marks.
My kid started Jr. High last week. He couldn't stop talking about how much he loved his History teacher.This after… https://t.co/3neOjvvpou— Dana Simmons (@DanaJSimmons) 1598931657000
After trying this keywording trick, Simmons confirmed her son was able to score higher on the Edgenuity platform. “Write long answers, include lots of proper names, read the "right" answers and replicate them. This evening he got 80/100, a 30-point spread. What is he learning here?,” she tweeted.
Later, she went on to reveal that she had totally cracked the
. “Two full sentences, followed by a word salad of all possibly applicable keywords. 100% on every assignment. Students on
, there's your ticket. He went from an F to an A+ without learning a thing,” she tweeted.
While the company hasn’t commented on this issue yet, Simmons shared her son is now an A+ student scoring 100% in all tests. Just write two sentences and include all possible keywords in your answer after reading the question.
Of course, this may not be true for all testing platforms, but somewhere this story serves as a reminder that it is a long road ahead for AI to replace teachers, as you surely don’t want your kids to be “SEO experts” in school to get high marks.