GitHub copilot has been making waves in the programming world in the last few days. It’s an AI-powered autocompleter, based on GPT-3, that can automatically fill in your code. In a preview of what you will expect when using it, the code snippets on the example page have subtle bugs that look fine at a first glance, but require a deeper look to actually see the issues.
On one hand, I am extremely delighted to see a “I can’t believe leopards ate MY face!” response
from programming sites. After years of
paying below minimum wage to extremely poor
workersautomating various sectors, the boot of capitalism is finally stomping on their jobs.
Years of pissing and whining about the GPL being evil and putting everything under permissive
licences cos muh freedooms they are now being replaced with a black box. Excellent! I love their
On the other hand, some of their concerns are valid. I will personally never use Copilot on any project I control, for a very simple reason. Copilot’s model was trained on all of GitHub, and ignoring the copyright disaster that would be, a lot of GitHub is web developer projects. I do not want fucking web developer code in my projects.
Around 90% of programmers are completely and utterly incompetent at their jobs. This is provable in practice by most software people use being either a) broken subtly in day to day usage b) broken obviously in day to day usage c) being excessively bloated in day to day usage. Programmers are, after all, the rejects of other professions - too stupid for real STEM, too fundamentally uncreative for the humanities. Programmers want to make stuff, but because they are intrinsically boring people, they have to settle for writing code instead.
There’s a funny “““joke””” in programming circles (alas, programmers are incapable of being funny) which implies that most code is copied from StackOverflow. This is probably true for a good amount of these bad programmers. You have a problem? Copy an answer from 2011 on SO and bash into place to do what you want. Now, I admit, I do copy and paste from SO - but only two snippets. These are flattening a list, and chunking a list, simply because I can never remember how to do them properly.
What does this have to do with Copilot? Copilot is an automatic StackOverflow copy/paste tool. GPT-3 is fundamentally a gigantic search engine, and so is Copilot. It doesn’t understand my code. Maybe for web developers it does, because web development could be done by a smart monkey, but it is a snippet engine that is pattern matching across the entire of SO and GitHub sources. The code may be subtly wrong, but you’d have to take a closer look and most programmers are too stupid to do that (if they weren’t maybe my programs would fucking work!), just like with copying SO snippets.
To Copilot, I say: No thanks! I don’t want webshit code infecting my projects!