- OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which can respond to questions with human-like responses, is gaining popularity.
- The same company is also behind Codex, a tool that automates the writing of software code.
- Experts say software development skills will still be needed for the foreseeable future.
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OpenAI is all the rage these days as the company’s intelligent chatbot, ChatGPT, captured the imagination and asked people what role artificial intelligence will play in the future. The same company has also developed a lesser-known service called Codex that could completely change the way developers work.
Using data collected from the web, ChatGPT can answer almost any question (although not always accurately) – and with an answer that looks like it was written by a human. The codex is similar, except it writes software code instead of English sentences. Tell Codex what type of software problem you are trying to solve and Codex will offer you a solution with a code sequence.
If an AI department can now write code for developers, how will that affect computer science students and will high-paying software engineering jobs disappear? Still, software engineering skills will remain in high demand, and AI services like Codex are just a natural step as programming gets easier from one generation to the next, according to academics and technology experts. computer education.
Codex has been available to developers since 2021 in the form of GitHub Copilot. And OpenAI, which has raised more than $10 billion from Microsoft and others, has recently invested more in Codex, hiring more than 1,000 contractors to write code and associated descriptions that will help Codex become a better programmer, Semafor reported.
Codex and ChatGPT are a “huge productivity booster,” and many programmers are already using Codex in their daily workflow, said Christopher Manning, professor of computer science and linguistics at Stanford University. Just because Codex can write basic functionality to make an engineer’s life easier doesn’t mean it can suddenly write entire apps on its own, he added.
Each generation makes programming easier
When you think of Codex, you have to understand that coding has gotten easier with each generation, says Hadi Partovi, CEO and co-founder of educational nonprofit Code.org, which creates programs for computer science classes. from kindergarten to 12th grade.
“The programming started with punch cards,” Partovi said. “We don’t use punch cards anymore.” After that, programmers started typing with keyboards using a programming language called Assembly, a low-level language that communicates directly with a machine’s architecture.
Similarly, Codex further simplifies some software engineering tasks. Programmers don’t have to spend as much time doing tedious work as others have done a million times, but they do need to understand the code produced by a tool like Codex, Partovi said. Developers who use Codex or a similar tool and cannot explain what their code does will not become productive engineers.
The Codex can fill in lines of code, but developers still need to understand the basics of solving a technical problem in the first place.
“I’m sure it will make engineering easier,” Partovi said. “Then we have more engineers and more software development. The demand for technology is limited only by the supply of engineers.
Create the next big thing
A big concern for the next generation of programmers is that students will use a program like Copilot to write code for them and then feel discouraged by the idea that the program can do the job on its own, said Cynthia Lee, master of computer science conferences. Sciences at Stanford University. She says she has already received assignments from students that she is sure were completed with the Codex.
Lee worries that Codex will discourage students who are struggling to complete their assignments. Tools like Copilot are “an exacerbation of a problem we’ve always faced, which is how to get people to do the tasks they need to learn,” she said.
“It just requires a lot of discussion with the students about the real basis of Why are we here?” said Lee.
Codex is a power multiplier that can speed up programming work, but more often than not it spits out code that people have already written by collecting data from existing software packages. Still, Lee is generally optimistic about the technology and stresses the importance of continuing to build software development skills for students.
“There will always be a limit to recreation,” Lee said.
Codex can accelerate innovation
The benefit of tools like Codex is that they can replace the manual search developers typically have to do on the web to find ways to debug their code and find software packages that support the code they write. said Stanford professor Manning.
For example, programmers can use the Python programming language to parse text on a web page. With Codex, they can simply write a comment requesting a piece of code to perform this task, and the service will return it.
“Even for people in this field, the speed at which these models have improved and the success they are having is frankly surprising,” Manning said. “But these models are absolutely not perfect, and if you are not able to notice when something is wrong and generate the wrong code, or if there is always an error, then you are not going to be a productive software developer.”
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