“AI Coding Assistants Shake Up Software Development, But May Have Unintended Consequences” on the Pure AI Web Site

I contributed to an article titled “AI Coding Assistants Shake Up Software Development, But May Have Unintended Consequences” in the February 2023 edition of the Pure AI web site. See https://pureai.com/articles/2023/02/03/coding-assistants.aspx.

OpenAI Codex and GitHub Copilot are closely related AI systems that can automatically write computer code snippets and even entire computer programs.

Example of Codex

Example of Copilot

Briefly, a Transformer is a complex low-level neural code module. GPT-3 is a large language model that uses Transformer architecture, is trained on Wikipedia, and that understands English. ChatGPT is a conversation chatbot application built on top of GPT-3. Codex is a system with ChatGPT plus additional training on computer code so Codex understands English and computer languages. Copilot is a wrapper over Codex that integrates directly into a software development programming environment.

I contributed a few opinions:

McCaffrey commented, “Like most technologies, AI assisted programming will have pros and cons. Like it or not, systems like Codex and Copilot are probably here to stay.”

He added, “These AI assistant systems are all based on existing knowledge. In their current states, they can simulate creativity in very surprising ways by combining ideas but they really can’t generate completely new algorithms.”

McCaffrey further noted, “One of my work colleagues speculated about a future with many specialized AI assistant systems, such as a physics assistant, a biology assistant and so on. Imagine if all these AI assistants could automatically communicate with each other using natural language via ChatGPT. It’s fun to imagine what that scenario could lead to.”

The thought of computer programs that write computer programs is mildly scary because of the possibility of good programs going bad. For example:

Left: In “Red Planet” (2000) an expedition to Mars has a robot named AMEE (Autonomous Mapping Exploration and Evasion). It gets damaged by a gamma-ray burst and starts hunting the crew.

Center: In “Demon Seed” (1977) a scientist creates an AI program named Proteus IV, which in turn creates a robot named Joshua. Proteus and Joshua are not pleased when the scientist tries to turn them off.

Right: In “Gog” (1954), Gog (and its partner Magog) are research robots. The Soviets gain control of the robots and they run amok.

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