A new computerized exam system in the UK has ranked texts written by Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway and William Golding as ‘below average’.
If the trio were sitting their exams today they would be failed for their ‘terrible writing style’.
Churchill’s rousing call to “fight them on the beaches” was too repetitive, with the text using the word “upon” and “our” too often. Talking about the “might of the German army” lost him marks because the computer assumed that Churchill had intended to say “might have”, instead of using “might” as a noun.
Graham Herbert, deputy head of the Chartered Institute of Educational Assessors, admitted that the computer was a bit limited.
It did not understand the purpose of the speech and would not spot a metaphor if saw one in a police line-up.
Hemingway was told by the computer that he should write with more care and detail and he should also be more careful about cleaning his shotgun.
Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange was ranked as ‘incomprehensible’ by the computer, which probably didn’t understand how programming a human was a bad thing.
The problems within the system were highlighted at a meeting of the Westminster Education Forum. The system, which is being used in the US already, is being trialed in the UK. In the US, kids have already learnt to write in a style which the computer appreciates, known as “schmoozing the computer”.