AI chatbots take on gaokao essay question

2023-06-09 11:04:18China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

AI chatbots like OpenAI's ChatGPT and Baidu's Ernie Bot have joined the millions of students taking the national college entrance exam, or gaokao, to write essays for the Chinese language exam.

Netizens have tasked the chatbots with writing an essay and are posting their versions on social media platforms.

While many have been amazed by the chatbots' ability to write a decent 800-word Chinese essay in seconds, others say they are better at presenting an argument and less adept at narration.

The hashtag "AI writing gaokao essay" became a trending topic on Sina Weibo on Wednesday, the first day of the gaokao exams, getting more than 120 million views.

A record 12.91 million examinees have signed up to participate in this year's gaokao, according to the Ministry of Education.

In one example, ChatGPT was asked to write an essay about the relationship between technology and time, in which it stated that the advancement of technology has made life more comfortable and convenient, while also making some people slaves of time.

On the same topic, Ernie Bot wrote that the improvement of technology has helped people control time to an unprecedented level, yet some are trapped by the fast pace of life.

Yu Dan, professor at Beijing Normal University, said the essays written by the two AI are both close to the correct answer, but lack emotion or creativity.

Human individuality and flair can never be replaced by machines, she said.

In an opinion editorial for Beijing News, writer Ye Kefei wrote that AI can write fluent essays that espouse commonly held views, but for the time being, it still lacks the imagination and critical thinking of students that score high marks for their essays.

AI cannot put forward new ideas, nor can it make traditional ideas more interesting or attractive, both reasons why some students perform well in essay writing, Ye said.

Standard views allow students to get average scores during the gaokao, but creativity and individuality are what help them get high scores, because graders don't like to read cliche-ridden essays, which is the way AI writes, he said.

Zheng Chunxia, a member of the China Writers Association, said that as a former grader of gaokao essays, she would give a score of 40 out of 60 to the essays written by the chatbots.

They lack originality and sincerity, and so do not leave a mark on readers, she said. Good stories come from life and writing is a way for people to live better lives, she added.


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