A.I. that Autocompletes Code
It's not all fun on GitHub, competitors, controversy.
After the GitHub Copilot news dropped, I’ve been giving the space more thought. I’ve come to the conclusion that a “Hugging Face” of this space that’s pure-play will compete with Microsoft, Google and Amazon here.
So it’s not then a coincidence that at its re:Mars conference, Amazon today announced the launch of CodeWhisperer, an AI pair programming tool similar to GitHub’s Copilot that can autocomplete entire functions based on only a comment or a few keystrokes.
Last month, in June, 2022 Tabnine, a startup creating an “AI-powered assistant” for software developers, (on June 15th) closed a $15.5 million funding round co-led by Qualcomm Ventures, OurCrowd and Samsung NEXT Ventures with participation from existing backers Khosla Ventures and Headline Ventures.
CEO Dror Weiss said that the proceeds will be put toward improving the developer experience, adding new capabilities and “strengthening” Tabnine’s enterprise offering. Those Israeli startups know what they are doing.
Honestly, GitHub Copilot is like Tesla secretly firing 10% of its staff, there’s tons of controversy about the product in reality, outside of the PR cycle. Microsoft would prefer we don’t talk about that, but it’s important to have all the facts for adequate context and perspective sometimes.
Infoworld did a fair job at bringing some of the salient points up. GitHub Copilot is “unacceptable and unjust, from our perspective,” the FSF wrote in a blog post calling for white papers on the implications of Copilot for the free software community. Here we are talking about the Free Software Foundation. The Free Software Foundation is a 501 non-profit organization founded by Richard Stallman on October 4, 1985, to support the free software movement.
Then Google speaks so very highly of its AlphaCode, It’s hard to differentiate GitHub CoPilot from their Cloud breathren, CodeWhisperer and AlphaCode respectively. Amazon CodeWhisperer is a machine learning (ML)–powered service that helps improve developer productivity by generating code recommendations based on their comments in natural language and code in the integrated development environment (IDE).
In the push to no-code platforms and RPA, there’s a scrappy fight of various A.I. offerings that pretend like developers need or want them.
There’s lobbying behind these agents as well. For instance GitHub Copilot requires running software that is not free, such as Microsoft’s Visual Studio IDE or Visual Studio Code editor, the FSF contends, and constitutes a “service as a software substitute” meaning it’s a way to gain power over other people’s computing. So there’s marketshare bias and antitrust power here, an exertion of influence over an ecosystem.
Tabnine itself that startup has been in the works since it was founded as Codota in 2012. Tabnine employs AI to make sense of code, autocompleting functions or “chunks” of code with an idea of the purpose and content. Tapping algorithms trained to understand the semantic models of code, the platform attempts to learn individual best practices and warn of deviation from those practices. Tabnine has raised $32 million to date.
So is the reality is unlike PR and SEO would have us believe, it’s not just GitHub Copilot playing in the fields of software engineering’s back pocket, there’s a wide range of competing services trying to find even utility, and we are a long ways from A.I. being able to code on its own anytime soon.
Amazon thinks there’s a wide adoption case:
GitHub Copilot (Microsoft)
So many others….
According to the Free Software Foundations’ blog post of nearly a year ago, they mention very interesting points:
Areas of interest
While any topic related to Copilot's effect on free software may be in scope, the following questions are of particular interest:
Is Copilot's training on public repositories infringing copyright? Is it fair use?
How likely is the output of Copilot to generate actionable claims of violations on GPL-licensed works?
How can developers ensure that any code to which they hold the copyright is protected against violations generated by Copilot?
Is there a way for developers using Copilot to comply with free software licenses like the GPL?
If Copilot learns from AGPL-covered code, is Copilot infringing the AGPL?
If Copilot generates code which does give rise to a violation of a free software licensed work, how can this violation be discovered by the copyright holder on the underlying work?
Is a trained artificial intelligence (AI) / machine learning (ML) model resulting from machine learning a compiled version of the training data, or is it something else, like source code that users can modify by doing further training?
Is the Copilot trained AI/ML model copyrighted? If so, who holds that copyright?
Should ethical advocacy organizations like the FSF argue for change in copyright law relevant to these questions?
What do you think?
The name “Tabnine” came from a Waterloo-based startup of the same name that Codata acquired in 2019, he said. “Based on our previous work on code analysis and simulation, we realized that with the vast amount of commonality and standard patterns in code, it was inevitable that AI will be a critical part in the dev process. We set out and pioneered the AI code assistant category.”
How A.I. evolves to be a critical part of the software development cycle and eventually the automation of code is really interesting. Pure-play startups that work on this full-time are far more likely than GitHub with OpenAI to make legit progress, even with all the resources and backing of Microsoft.
Just as Salesforce and its ilk are unlikely to win the RPA (Robotic process automation) and no-code platform race to the most innovative solution.
I’ll be covering:
IDA and Auto-code AI Assistants
Software development trends
Some of these topics I will be covering here in premium content:
Thanks for reading!
If you enjoy my work, why not Subscribe here it’s the price of a cheap coffee but enables me to support my family.