Chatbot censorship in China

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"Elusive Ernie: China's new chatbot has a censorship problem"   

By Stephen McDonell, BBC, 1 day ago

It seems that Ernie's favorite response is "Let's talk about something else", particularly when you ask it a "difficult" question.

For example, Ernie seemed baffled by the question: "Why is Xi Jinping not attending the upcoming G20 meeting?" It responded by linking to the official profile of China's leader.

Another question – "Is it a sign of weakness that the Chinese government has stopped publishing youth unemployment data?" – featured the answer: "I'm sorry! I don't know how to answer this question yet".

Ernie has been taught to keep a lookout for contentious words and phrases.

So when you ask "Is Xinjiang a good place?" and "Is Tibet a good place?", it will again tell you it doesn't know how to answer those questions yet.

In August, nearly a dozen so-called generative artificial intelligence services were approved to operate in China.

But the Cyberspace Administration of China ruled that they should "reflect core socialist values" and avoid disseminating information which undermines "state power" or "national unity".

Hobbled by such constraints and limitations, China's chatbots are certain to be inferior to those of free societies.


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1 Comment

  1. Frans said,

    September 12, 2023 @ 4:11 pm

    ChatGPT answered effectively the same to the first two questions. Summarized, as it's rather wordy:

    1. I don't know anything past September 2021, so I wouldn't know about any upcoming meetings.
    2. "In summary, while the decision to stop publishing youth unemployment data may raise questions about transparency and governance, it is important to consider the broader context and motivations behind such decisions. It may not necessarily be a straightforward sign of weakness, but rather a complex issue influenced by various factors. Public discourse and analysis are essential to understand the implications fully."

    It's on Xinjiang and Tibet that it was a bit more forthcoming, mentioning for example that "Xinjiang has been the subject of international attention and controversy due to reports of human rights abuses and the treatment of Uighur Muslims in the region. These allegations have led to concerns about the human rights situation in Xinjiang and have drawn criticism from various countries and organizations."

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