GitHub Copilot ‘AI Pair Programmer’ Now Generally Available for $10 a Month
After a year-long technical preview, GitHub Copilot, described as an “AI pair programmer” coding assistant, has reached General Availability (GA) status.
Powered by a new AI system developed by OpenAI, GitHub copilot comes as an editor/IDE extension available for Visual Studio Code, Visual Studio 2022, Neovim, and the JetBrains suite of IDEs.
“We specifically designed GitHub Copilot as an editor extension to make sure nothing gets in the way of what you’re doing,” GitHub said in a June 21 blog post. after the announcement of GA status.
As an AI pair programmer, it offers advanced code completion functionality and suggestions similar to IntelliSense/IntelliCode, although it goes beyond the Microsoft offering thanks to Codex, the new AI system developed by Microsoft partner OpenAI. While IntelliCode is powered by a large scale transformer model specialized for code usage (GPT-C), OpenAI Codex is an improved descendant of GPT-3 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) that can translate natural language into code.
That means developers can create entire projects – like a simple game – just with typed commands. The new product also offers code suggestions for whole lines, full methods, standard code, whole unit tests and even complex algorithms.
“GitHub Copilot distils the collective knowledge of the world’s developers into an editor extension that suggests code in real time, so you can focus on what matters most: building great software,” according to GitHub.
Because OpenAI Codex is trained in publicly available source code (including GitHub repos) and natural language, it works for both programming languages and human languages. Editor extensions send comments and code to the GitHub Copilot service, relying on context — file content both in the file being edited and adjacent or related files within a project. Relevant context can also be identified through the collection of URLs from repositories or file paths, after which comments and code along with context can be used by OpenAI Codex to synthesize and represent individual rules and entire functions, the project’s FAQ explains.
After the technical preview, it is now available to all developers for $10 per month (or $100 per year), although it will be free for students and maintainers of popular open source projects. It is also available in a Free 60-day trial†
“With more than 1.2 million developers in our technical preview over the past 12 months, people who started using GitHub told Copilot that it became an indispensable part of their daily workflows,” GitHub said in announcing GA. “In files where it’s enabled, nearly 40 percent of the code is written by GitHub Copilot in popular coding languages, such as Python — and we expect this to increase. That creates more time and space for developers to focus on solving problems.” bigger problems and building even better software.”
But GitHub Copilot comes with some skepticism, as it has reawakened existential fears among developers who fear it will come for their work. It has also been associated with unsafe code and has even been accused of “unacceptable and unjustby the non-profit Free Software Foundation (FSF).
That FAQ mentioned earlier addresses some of those concerns:
- We don’t expect GitHub to replace Copilot developers. Rather, we expect GitHub Copilot to partner with developers, expanding their capabilities and enabling them to be more productive, reduce manual tasks, and help them focus on interesting work.
- Public code may contain insecure coding patterns, bugs, or references to outdated APIs or idioms. When GitHub Copilot synthesizes code suggestions based on this data, it can also synthesize code containing these unwanted patterns. This is something we care deeply about at GitHub, and in recent years we’ve provided tools like GitHub Actions, Dependabot, and CodeQL to open source projects to help improve code quality. Of course, you should always use GitHub Copilot in conjunction with good testing and code review practices and security tools, as well as your own judgment.
- We recognize that fairness and inclusiveness in code-generation systems are important new areas of research. We partner with experts, including Microsoft’s Office of Responsible AI, in an effort to advance GitHub Copilot’s responsible AI practices. We will also review new research and learn from feedback we receive to improve GitHub Copilot so that it is usable by a wide range of developers and offers a comparable quality of service to people of different backgrounds.
While GitHub Copilot is now available to individual developers, it won’t be available to businesses until later this year.
“GitHub Copilot allows AI to be widely deployed by developers to write and complete code for the first time in software history,” said GitHub. “Like the rise of compilers and open source, we believe AI-assisted coding will fundamentally change the nature of software development, giving developers a new tool to write code easier and faster so they can be happier in their lives.”