GitHub Inc. declared today its artificial intelligence Co-pilot toolwhich is designed to make life easier for developers, is now generally available to individual developers for $10 per month or $100 per year, with a 60-day free trial.
The company launched Copilot in beta in June 2021 and describes the tool as an “AI pair programmer”. Copilot aims to help developers by suggesting the next line of code as they type in an integrated development environment such as JetBrains IDE, Neovim, or Microsoft Visual Studio Code. In addition to proposing code, it can also propose complete methods and more complex algorithms when necessary.
In a blog postGitHub Managing Director Thomas Dohmke said GitHub Copilot was designed as an editor extension to ensure nothing gets in the way of what developers are doing.
“GitHub Copilot distills the collective knowledge of developers around the world into an editor extension that suggests code in real time, to help you stay focused on what matters most: building great software,” he said. Explain.
According to Dohmke, some 1.2 million developers tested Copilot throughout its preview phase. It has apparently been very helpful as well, with Dohmke claiming that he wrote up to 40% of the developer’s code written in popular languages such as Python.
“Much like the rise of compilers and open source, we believe that AI-assisted coding will fundamentally change the nature of software development, giving developers a new tool to write code easier and faster,” Dohmke said.
Code automation may well become the next competitive area of software development. Last year, DeepMind, a subsidiary of Google LLC’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., introduced an AI system called AlphaCode it is also very capable of writing software code. DeepMind tested AlphaCode against a third coding platform called Codeforces, and achieved an estimated ranking that puts it in the top 54% of human coders – not perfect, but certainly an achievement to build on.
That said, there has been some controversy surrounding the use of AI in coding. In the case of Copilot, the tool is powered by OpenAI Codex, which is a language model that has been trained on billions of lines of publicly available source code and natural language data, as well as code available in public GitHub repositories.
This reliance on open source training data apparently angered the Free Software Foundation, which Copilote label as “unacceptable and unjust”. The foundation questioned whether Copilot’s training on freely licensed code constituted “fair use”. That’s a problem because Copilot isn’t free per se, but rather a paid service used as a software substitute, the foundation said.
In addition to copyright issues, a December study showed that Copilot can be a security issue, with up to 40% of its coding output containing vulnerabilities.
GitHub didn’t appear to respond to any of these complaints today, but it did at least acknowledge its debt to open source.
“GitHub Copilot wouldn’t be possible without GitHub’s vibrant community of students and creators,” said Dohmke. “To support and give back to these communities, we’re making GitHub Copilot free for verified students and maintainers of popular open source projects.”