Big news There were calls this week from tech luminaries to halt the development and deployment of AI models more advanced than OpenAI’s GTP-4 — the astonishingly capable language algorithm behind ChatGPT — until the risks, including job displacement and misinformation, are better understood. .
Even if OpenAI, Google, Microsoft, and other tech heavyweights stop what they’re doing — and they’re not going to stop what they’re doing — the AI models that have already been developed are likely to have a profound impact, especially in development software.
It might not sound like a typical business deal, but Alphabet’s agreement to supply AI for Replit, a web-based coding tool with more than 20 million users, is something of a seismic shift. Replit will use Google’s AI models along with others in Ghostwriter, a tool that recommends code and answers questions related to code, similar to ChatGPT. Amjad Massad, CEO of Replit, tells me that Google has “super cool technology” and that his company can put it in the hands of developers. As part of this partnership, Google will also make Replit available to Google Cloud users, helping it reach more business customers.
The move is particularly important because Alphabet is aligning itself with Microsoft and GitHub, which are also using artificial intelligence to help coders with Copilot, an add-on for Visual Studio. The same artificial intelligence that makes ChatGPT so smart runs on computer languages. When you start entering code, tools like Copilot suggest a way to complete it.
Alphabet’s move also shows what could be the next big battleground for big tech companies. While so much attention is focused on ChatGPT’s salon reception and Donald Trump’s Midjourney 5 releases, the bigger story is which company can offer developers the best AI tools — and the new software developers will build with that AI.
Microsoft research shows that developers can complete tasks more than 50 percent faster when using an AI assistant. Companies that offer advanced AI can attract developers to their coding tools and get users interested in their cloud and other things. Amazon has developed an AI coding tool called Code Whisperer, and Meta is also working on it for internal use. Apparently, Apple will not want to be left behind.
Artificial intelligence is not only helping developers write code, it’s starting to change the way code is built. Last week, OpenAI announced the first plugins for ChatGPT. They will allow the bot to perform tasks such as searching for flights, making restaurant reservations and ordering groceries. Incorporating artificial intelligence into code can also speed up software development. This week Masad from Replit shared a great example –an app that will turn voice commands into working websites. “We believe that many software projects will start this way in the future,” says Massad.
With everything happening so fast, it’s worth thinking about the implications of the rapid incorporation of artificial intelligence into software development. Artificial intelligence tools can reproduce vulnerabilities in the code they suggest that developers may not notice or be able to detect. Developers may become more complacent or see their skills atrophy if they rely too heavily on AI. And what kind of “technical debt” might arise if programmers have to go back and fix software that no human has ever studied?
Maybe we’ll find out soon.