When West — not his real name — enrolled in college last year at the University of Rhode Island, he quickly realized that his professors expected a lot from him. There was study scheduled, there were assignments, there were tests—and he didn’t want to spend the same amount of time on all of them.

“I’d like to say I’m pretty smart,” West said. So he turned to a homework-writing trick he’d started using a year earlier in high school. It entered GPT-3, a text generation tool developed by OpenAI that can create written content from simple prompts. Trained on a huge corpus of existing languages ​​pulled from Wikipedia, Common Crawl, and other sources, GPT-3 is intended as a tool for automating writing tasks. But it’s also increasingly helping students like West avoid some of the tedium of academic writing and get straight to the fun part (doing).

“I thought, ‘Damn,’ you know, it was crazy,” he said. “When people are children, they imagine that a machine can do their homework. And I just happened to come across this machine.