GitHub Copilot is now public — here’s what you need to know

by | Jun 29, 2022 | Technology

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GitHub announced last week that it will be releasing Copilot, its “AI pair programmer” tool, to the public. Copilot uses AI to provide a range of support functions, including autocompleting instructions, generating entire functions, and transforming docstrings and descriptions into functional source code.

Copilot launched as a technical preview in 2021. Now all developers can apply for Copilot, which installs as an extension in integrated development environments (IDE) such as Visual Studio, VS Code, Neovim and JetBrains IDEs.

At the time of Copilot’s release, there was a lot of excitement around its stunning coding capabilities. But there were also concerns about how far its abilities can be trusted and whether it has a real impact on the productivity of developers. After a year and billions of lines of code, Copilot is finally ready to be in the hands of every developer.

Here’s what we know about Copilot’s effect on real programming tasks, told by its creators and developers who have used it in their day-to-day work.

How much code is written with Copilot?

Behind Copilot is the transformer architecture, the kind of deep learning model used in large language models such as GPT-3 and LaMDA. Transformers are especially good at processing sequential data such as text, software code and protein sequences. Given a prompt, a transformer model can predict the next elements of the sequence, whether it is words or computer instructions. Copilot is built on OpenAI’s Codex, a transformer that has been trained on tens of millions of code repositories. Once installed on your IDE, Copilot provides suggestions based on the existing code in your file as well as cues, such as the names of your functions and classes and the comments in your code.

It is worth no …

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