For the past nine years, Collins, a 27-year-old freelance writer, has been making money by writing assignments for students in the US — more than 8,500 miles from Nanyuki in central Kenya, where he lives. it is part ofContract fraudCollins writes college essays on topics including psychology, sociology, and economics. Sometimes, he is even given direct access to the college gates, allowing him to submit tests and assignments, participate in group discussions, and talk to professors. Using Student IDs.In 2024, make between $900 and $1,200 per month from this work.
But recently, his earnings have dropped to $500-$800 per month. Collins connects this to the meteoric rise of ChatGPT and other generative AI tools.
“Last year at a time like this, I’ve been getting, on average, 50 to 70 assignments, including discussions that are shorter, about 150 words each, and don’t require a lot of research,” Collins said. Rest of the world. “Now, on average, I get about 30 to 40 class assignments.” He asked to be identified only by his first name to avoid jeopardizing his accounts on the platforms where he finds clients.
In January 2023, the online learning platform Study It surveyed more than 1,000 US students and more than 100 teachers. Over 89% of students said they used ChatGPT to help with homework. Almost half of them admitted to using ChatGPT on a test or home test, 53% used it to write an article, and 22% used it to illustrate one.
Collins now fears that the rise of artificial intelligence could dramatically reduce students’ reliance on freelancers like himself in the long term, affecting their income. Meanwhile, he relies on ChatGPT to create content that he has used to outsource to other freelance writers.
While 17 states in the United States I banned contract cheating, and it wasn’t a problem for me The self-employed in Kenya, worried about providing for themselves and their families. Despite being the largest economy in East Africa, Kenya has The highest unemployment rate in the regionwith 5.7% of the workforce unemployed in 2024. Approx It is estimated that 25.8% of the population lives in extreme poverty. This situation makes the country a powerhouse for independent workers. According to the Online Business Index (OLI)It is an economic indicator that measures the global economy of online self-employment, with Kenya accounting for 1% of the world’s independent online workforce, ranking 15th overall and second only to Egypt in Africa. About 70% of online freelancers in Kenya offer writing and translation services.
John Kamau, who has offered contract fraud services since 2014, disagrees with Collins’ assessment. “The work will still be there,” he said, “because it takes a lot of time and effort to modify AI-generated text to avoid detection.” Rest of the world. “So, I don’t think it’s as simple as saying, with artificial intelligence, students in the United States are going to do it [the assignments] themselves.” Kamau, who also works as a sales agent with a Nairobi-based building supplies company, predicts that more schools will limit and ban the use of tools like ChatGPT as AI technology improves. “Academic writers will still have their work. But it will have a positive effect [on] Writers who can collaborate with ChatGPT and use it as a guide.”
Alfred Unger, founder of a consulting firm Amnesty International KenyaTell Rest of the world that The emergence of Large Language Models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT will disrupt the supply of academic writers in Kenya. “On the one hand, writers and other freelancers have recognized the powerful capabilities of an LLM such as ChatGPT, and are using it in their work,” he said. This means that they can now spend more time creating, and get better articles because of the time that ChatGPT saves. On the downside, it means [fewer] Jobs like their customers and source of supply are moving to ChatGPT and other AI tools to get their work done.” So far, higher education institutions in the US have Avoid outright bans About using ChatGPT. Instead, colleges have it, including Yale University issued guidelines and recommendations to staff on the use of AI, leaving it up to teachers to decide how ChatGPT should be used in their classes.
Wade Brian, a third-year finance student, provides contract fraud services on the side. Tell Rest of the world He doesn’t use ChatGPT to write full articles, because that could cost him his credibility – and future hires. Instead, it limits its use to content sources, just like Google.
Business has been slow lately, Brian agrees. “When I started last year, as a true hobbyist, in the first month I did 30 tasks,” he said. “When I got better, I was doing up to 60 tasks a month. The maximum I made in a month last year was Ksh40,000.” [$296]. In March, Brian barely got through 10 assignments. “It’s not that I didn’t look [for gigs]. I didn’t even hit 10,000 ksh [$74],” He said.
The advent of generative AI tools has made teachers’ work even more difficult. Christopher Kanan, an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Rochester, has started running personality tests in class due to ChatGPT’s popularity.
“It becomes difficult to determine who knows what and who is getting help from things like ChatGPT,” It is to explain On the university’s website, even as I explain that AI tools are not going anywhere and will evolve rapidly.
Others, like Ethan Mullick, an assistant professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, have chosen to take a more open approach to ChatGPT in the classroom. “The truth is, I probably wouldn’t have been able to stop them even if I hadn’t asked,” he told NPR.
Meanwhile, the freelancers in Kenya who help American students cheat are now vying for a smaller piece of the pie.
“The first quarter of the year was part of the high season because the students are back in college for their semesters, and they have a lot of assignments,” said Adrian Nyanga, a freelancer who has been in the industry for four years. Rest of the world.
“But I saw a decrease in the missions available this year, so there are no more high and low seasons,” he said. “Remember, there are a lot of writers who have joined the industry in the last few years, and getting gigs has been really harder, but there are fewer now, especially with artificial intelligence.”