Nearly one year ago GitHub launched Copilot in private beta and today Copilot is available in general release with a subscription attached. Copilot is a collaboration between Microsoft, GitHub and OpenAI and uses artificial intelligence to act as a virtual coding assistant.
GitHub Copilot is described as:
GitHub Copilot is an AI pair programmer that helps you write code faster and with less work. It draws context from comments and code to suggest individual lines and whole functions instantly. GitHub Copilot is powered by Codex, a generative pretrained language model created by OpenAI. It is available as an extension for Visual Studio Code, Visual Studio, Neovim, and the JetBrains suite of integrated development environments (IDEs).
GitHub Copilot is not intended for non-coding tasks like data generation and natural language generation, like question & answering. Your use of GitHub Copilot is subject to the GitHub Terms for Additional Product and Features.
From the very beginning the project has been problematic such as illustrated in this tweet, where Copilot copied Quake source code verbatim, while changing the open source license. In fact the ethical and legal ramifications of dealing with open source code lead to the Free Software Foundation doing a call for white papers on the subject, the results of which you can read here.
There is not doubt that AI assisted coding is going to be part of our life, but bringing one to market (it’s $100 a year with free versions for students and open source contributors) with all the outstanding moral, legal and technical issues is a very bold move by Microsoft. If you choose to use Copilot, be certain to read the FAQ, especially the bits on usage rights and telemetry data, as it puts you in a legally dubious position if your AI assistant is breaking copyright laws on your behalf.
You can learn more about GitHub Copilot in the video below.