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China’s students leap ‘Great Firewall’ to get homework help from ChatGPT

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Chinese schoolchildren are using ChatGPT to slash homework time, but teachers are worried over the possibilities for cheating and plagiarism

Chinese schoolchildren are using ChatGPT to slash homework time, but teachers are worried over the possibilities for cheating and plagiarism – Copyright AFP Ed JONES

Poornima WEERASEKARA

Chinese schoolchildren are turning to AI bot ChatGPT to slash their homework time — vaulting the country’s “Great Firewall” to write book reports and bone up on their language skills.

With its ability to produce A-grade essays, poems and programming code within seconds, ChatGPT has sparked a global gold rush in artificial intelligence tech.

But it has also prompted concern from teachers, worried over the possibilities for cheating and plagiarism.

In China, where the service is unavailable without a virtual private network (VPN), over a dozen students told AFP they have used it to write essays, solve science and maths problems, and generate computer code.

Eleven-year-old Esther Chen said ChatGPT has helped to halve the time she studies at home, while her sister Nicole uses it to learn English.

Esther, who attends a competitive school in the southern megacity of Shenzhen, said she used to spend four to five hours every day on homework.

“My mum would stay up late until I finished all my homework and we would fight constantly,” she said. “Now, ChatGPT helps me to do the research quickly.”

Several students told AFP they had bought foreign phone numbers online or used VPNs to bypass restrictions and access ChatGPT.

One retailer allows users to buy a US number for just 5.5 yuan ($0.8), while one registered in India costs less than one yuan.

And for those unable to scale the firewall, AI Life on the ubiquitous WeChat app charges one yuan ($0.15) to ask ChatGPT a question, as do other services.

– AI book report –

Chinese media last month reported major tech firms, including WeChat’s parent Tencent and rival Ant Group, had been ordered to cut access to ChatGPT on their platforms, and state media blasted it as a tool for spreading “foreign political propaganda”.

But Esther’s mother, Wang Jingjing, said she wasn’t worried.

“We’ve used a VPN for years. The girls are encouraged to read widely from different sources,” she told AFP, adding she is more worried about plagiarism and keeps a close eye on her daughter.

Esther insisted she does not get the chatbot to do the work for her, pointing to a recent assignment in which she needed to finish a book report on the novel “Hold up the Sky” by Liu Cixin, a globally renowned Chinese sci-fi writer.

With a weekly schedule crammed with piano practice, swimming, chess and rhythmic gymnastics, she said she did not have time to finish the book.

Instead, she asked ChatGPT to give her a summary and paragraphs about the main characters and themes, writing the report from that.

– ‘It’s less pressure’ –

Students are also using ChatGPT to bypass China’s lucrative English language test prep industry, in which applicants learn thousands of words by rote with expensive tutors ahead of the exams needed to enter colleges in the United States, United Kingdom or Australia.

“I didn’t want to memorise word lists or entire conversations,” Stella Zhang, 17, told AFP.

So instead of spending up to 600 yuan ($85) an hour, she dropped out and now learns through conversations with the chatbot.

“It’s less pressure… It also offers instant feedback on my essays, and I can submit different versions,” she explained.

Thomas Lau, a college admissions counsellor in the eastern city of Suzhou, said more than two dozen students he works with have dropped out of language cramming schools and opted to prepare with ChatGPT.

But the tool has created new problems.

“I run all the personal statements and other application materials written by students through software to detect whether parts of it have been written using AI,” Lau said. “Many fail the test.”

– ‘Ban it or embrace it?’ –

A flurry of Chinese tech firms including Baidu, Alibaba and JD.com said they are developing rivals to ChatGPT.

But Beijing is already primed to crack down and said it would soon introduce new rules to govern AI.

While tools to detect whether a text has been written using AI can be accessed in China, schools are also training teachers to ensure academic ethics are upheld.

“The big debate with ChatGPT in classrooms is whether to ban it or embrace it,” said Tim Wallace, a teacher in Beijing.

But with some teachers using the tech themselves, telling students not to is a hard sell.

“Teachers use the tool to generate customised lesson plans within seconds,” he said. “We can’t tell students not to use it while using it ourselves.”

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TikTok spends $1.5B on Tokopedia JV to get around Jakarta social e-commerce ban

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TikTok spends $1.5B on Tokopedia JV to get around Jakarta social e-commerce ban

Just two months ago, ByteDance-owned TikTok abruptly closed its shopping platform in Indonesia to comply with surprise regulations from the Southeast Asian country’s government. Jakarta ordered social media companies like TikTok and Facebook to stop selling goods on their platforms, demanding a separation of social media and e-commerce services.

TikTok now seems to have found a way to revive its e-commerce dreams in Indonesia by spending billions to start a joint venture with Indonesian tech giant GoTo. On Monday, the two companies announced that TikTok Shop will now be available on GoTo’s Tokopedia platform.

“Tokopedia and TikTok Shop Indonesia’s businesses will be combined under the existing PT Tokopedia entity in which TikTok will take a controlling stake. The shopping features within the TikTok app in Indonesia will be operated and maintained by the enlarged entity,” TikTok said in a statement Monday.

TikTok will invest over $1.5 billion into Tokopedia, taking a 75% stake in the platform. GoTo will remain an ecosystem partner to Tokopedia and receive an “ongoing revenue stream from Tokopedia commensurate with its scale and growth,” but will not be required to continue funding the platform. Further funding from TikTok also won’t reduce GoTo’s remaining 25% stake.

Getting back into the Indonesian ecommerce market will be a win for TikTok. Indonesia, which is the platform’s largest market outside of the U.S., is key to Tiktok’s online shopping aspirations. In June, CEO Shou Zi Chew pledged to “invest billions in Indonesia and Southeast Asia over the next few years.”

ByteDance wants to replicate its Chinese e-commerce successaround the globe. Last year, consumers spent in China 1.41 trillion yuan ($196 billion) on products sold on Douyin, the version of TikTok for the Chinese market, The Information reported in January. ByteDance, through TikTok, is expanding its online shopping services in both Southeast Asia and the U.S. Yet the company is struggling to win over American consumers: The Information reported in August that U.S. shoppers are spending just $4 million a day, equivalent to $1.4 billion over a whole year, on goods sold on the social media platform. (TikTok officially launched TikTok Shop in the U.S. in September, though sellers have complained about a flood of low-quality products on the platform).

Before Indonesia imposed its ban in September, the country’s president, Joko Widodo, complained that social media platforms were threatening local micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises. Government officials also accused TikTok of engaging in predatory pricing.

GoTo’s deal with TikTok means the Indonesian tech giant is giving up its majority ownership of Tokopedia . Tokopedia started in 2008 and grew to be one of Indonesia’s largest e-commerce platforms. The company merged with ride-hailing startup GoJek in 2021, becoming GoTo Group. The company debuted on Jakarta’s stock exchange in April last year.

Yet the company has struggled to wow investors since then. GoTo has yet to make a profit since becoming a public company. The tech firm reported 2.4 trillion Indonesian rupiah ($147 million) in net losses last quarter, significantly less than the 6.7 trillion rupiah ($428 million) it lost this time last year.

Investors do not appear to be thrilled by the news of GoTo’s TikTok partnership. Shares fell by over 19% by 2:30pm Indonesia time on Monday, erasing gains made late last week as rumors began to build of the new partnership.

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How to Train ChatGPT to Write in Your Brand’s Tone of Voice [Infographic]

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How to Train ChatGPT to Write in Your Brand’s Tone of Voice [Infographic]

Are you looking for ways to improve your ChatGPT output? Want to train it to write in a more unique tone of voice, in order to better suit your branding?

The Creative Marketer shares his ChatGPT prompt tips in this infographic. To enact these, add “Write like [INSERT CHARACTER]” at the start of your ChatGPT instructions.

TCM breaks things down into the following categories:

  • Innocent
  • Sage
  • Explorer
  • Ruler
  • Creator
  • Caregiver
  • Lover
  • Hero
  • Everyman
  • Magician
  • Jester
  • Outlaw

Check out the infographic for more information.

A version of this post was first published on the Red Website Design blog.

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Elon Musk reinstates far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on X

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Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been reinstated on X, formerly known as Twitter, by company owner Elon Musk

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been reinstated on X, formerly known as Twitter, by company owner Elon Musk – Copyright GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File Joe Buglewicz

Elon Musk, the billionaire owner of X, on Sunday reinstated far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on the social media platform, a year after vowing never to let him return.

Jones, who claimed that a December 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut that killed 20 children and six educators was a hoax, was banned from the platform — then still known as Twitter — in 2018 for violating its “abusive behavior policy.”

He was also sued by families of the victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting and ordered by a judge in the case to pay up more than a billion dollars in damages last year.

Musk had himself promised never to let the Infowars host back on the social media platform, which he bought last year for $44 billion.

But following a poll Musk conducted on X asking whether Jones should be reinstated, to which some two million users responded, he flipped that decision.

“I vehemently disagree with what he said about Sandy Hook, but are we a platform that believes in freedom of speech or are we not?” the SpaceX founder said on X.

But Shannon Watts, founder of the group Moms Demand Action group which pushes for tighter gun laws, said that “defamation is not free speech.”

Musk’s decision comes the same week that the Sandy Hook families commemorate the 11th anniversary of the December 14 shooting, which Jones alleged was staged to allow the government to crack down on gun rights.

Jones’ followers harassed the bereaved families for years, accusing parents of murdered children of being “crisis actors” whose children had never existed.

It also came a week after Musk had responded to advertisers pulling out of X because of far-right posts and hate speech, including an apparent endorsement by Musk himself of an anti-Semitic tweet.

Asked whether he would respond to the advertising exodus, Musk said in an interview with journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin that the advertisers could “go f*** yourself.”

Jones, who has a million followers on X, returned to the site with his first post re-tweeting Andrew Tate, the controversial former kickboxer facing rape and human trafficking charges in Romania, in which he hailed Jones’ “triumphant return”

US media reported that as of Sunday, the account of Jones’ controversial show Infowars was still banned.

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