Microsoft-owned GitHub is today launching its AI tool Copilot, which helps developers suggest lines of code in their code editor. GitHub originally partnered with OpenAI last year to launch a preview of Copilot, and today it’s generally available to all developers.
Priced at $10 per month or $100 per year, GitHub Copilot is able to suggest the next line of code while developers are typing in an integrated development environment (IDE) such as Visual Studio Code, Neovim, and JetBrains IDEs. Copilot can propose full methods and complex algorithms alongside boilerplate code and unit testing support.
More than 1.2 million developers signed up for the GitHub Copilot preview over the past 12 months, and it will remain a free tool for verified students and maintainers of popular open source projects. In files where it’s enabled, GitHub says nearly 40 percent of code is now written by Copilot.
“Just like the rise of compilers and open source, we believe that AI-assisted coding will fundamentally change the way software is developed, giving developers a new tool to write code easier and faster, so they can be happier in their lives says GitHub CEO Thomas Dohmke.
Microsoft’s $1 billion investment in OpenAI, the research firm now led by former Y Combinator President Sam Altman, led to the creation of GitHub Copilot. It is based on OpenAI Codex, a descendant of OpenAI’s flagship language generation algorithm GPT-3. However, GitHub Copilot has been controversial. Just days after the preview launched, there were questions about the legality of training Copilot with publicly available code posted on GitHub. Aside from copyright issues, a study also found that around 40 percent of Copilot’s output contained security vulnerabilities.
Microsoft isn’t the only company working on automated AI tools to help with programming. Last year, Google’s DeepMind unveiled an AI system called AlphaCode designed to write “competitive-level” computer programs. AlphaCode was tested against Codeforces, a competitive programming platform, and achieved an “estimated rank” that placed it in the top 54 percent of human programmers. The challenges are different from those a regular programmer would face, but they show how AI coding systems could help programmers in the future.
GitHub Pilot is available today to all developers with a 60-day free trial. GitHub will offer a pilot for enterprises later this year.