Artificial intelligence is rapidly improving in its ability to speak to humans.
It’s also quickly learning how to speak to other computers.
AI has advanced to the point that it can perform several coding tasks. AI coding assistants can autocomplete sections of code, check it for bugs, translate it from one coding language to another, and write code from plain language prompts.
While this growing ability is impressive, it’s far from perfect. Issues like errors and security flaws are some of the hurdles that AI programmers face as they work to refine these tools.
Like the new programs that write content and produce art, some of the same concerns also exist about what AI programming could mean for the future of jobs in the web development community. While some worry that it could cause job losses, others point to how AI cannot replace the creativity of developers. They say the advances could automate lower-level tasks while opening up new opportunities in the field.
Today, in the fourth and final post in our series on the advances of AI and what they mean for the web design and digital marketing industry, we’re looking at AI that can code—and what that means for us humans.
How Advanced Is Artificial Intelligence Coding?
AI is making rapid advances in learning to write in these languages. Trained using code from millions of online repositories, OpenAI’s Codex is one example of a program capable of turning plain language prompts into code. It can write in more than a dozen coding languages and accomplish certain advanced programming tasks faced by applicants to tech firms like Google and Facebook, the New York Times has reported.
Codex is the program used in GitHub’s Copilot tool, an auto-complete style tool that suggests code as humans are writing it.
Another AI program, DeepMind’s AlphaCode, has shown it can perform at a level that would beat more than 45% of programmers in coding contests with 5,000 participants or more.
Meanwhile, OpenAI’s chatbot, ChatGPT, can also help with coding tasks. It can write sections of code, explain what snippets of code do, find bugs or revise code, and translate code from one coding language to another. Some people have used ChatGPT to help them write WordPress plugins and Google Chrome extensions.
What Could Artificial Intelligence Mean for Coding?
These and other coding programs aren’t perfect yet, and they’re not better than a good human developer.
Some researchers are wary that AI is writing code with more security vulnerabilities than code written by human coders. A Stanford study published in the fall found those using an AI coding assistant wrote “significantly less secure code than those without access.” And a study from NYU researchers found that for certain tasks, Copilot wrote code with security issues about 40% of the time.
Some have responded that there are certain parts of code that are more likely to see security flaws and that tools exist to help identify code issues in the AI-generated code.
What will this mean for the future? GitHub Copilot’s website predicts that AI tools could help eliminate more repetitive tasks to allow developers “to be more productive, reduce manual tasks, and help them focus on interesting work,” but that they won’t be a substitute for the problem-solving and ingenuity of human developers. They could also help make working in coding more accessible for more people.
DeepMind experts have said they see the technology boosting the productivity of web developers by completing some of the more mundane tasks they face on a daily basis. It could also help explain sections of code to developers looking to understand them.
As it is in every field, the future impact of AI on coding will continue to be something to watch.
Work with Our Team of Human Coding Experts
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