GitHub’s AI-powered code tool Copilot for Business will empower developers

By Wilson Lau | Apr 24, 2023

Editor’s note: This story was first published in February 2023 in our internal newsletter and is being released for all readers as part of our AI April program. Learn more about our two AI April exploratory live panels here (opens in a new window)!

GitHub announced that its AI-powered code completion tool, Copilot for Business, is now generally available. Copilot for Business already has more than 400 organizations as customers and the latest version added various features for enterprise customers such as license management, policy management, and more privacy features. Along with the previous option to subscribe through GitHub’s sales organization, businesses can now subscribe to the enterprise version through a monthly self-serve option.

GitHub Copilot is the first OpenAI Codex-powered application built from the collaboration between GitHub and OpenAI. OpenAI Codex is an AI model trained on programming code datasets built from 159GB of data sourced from GitHub’s public repositories. GitHub Copilot is available as an extension for various integrated development tools, and it can generate programming codes as well as make code suggestions to developers. These code suggestions could be partial, whole lines, or even entire functions, depending on the context of inputting codes or instructions.

Copilot has continued advancing since the first preview version was released in 2021. The early version of Copilot can complete simple programming tasks such as generating a function, writing codes for testing, filling new codes based on repetitive pattern, or suggesting alternative code implementation. The latest version has added advance features such as recognizing common security vulnerabilities in code and suggesting more secure implementations.

Copilot is expected to continue evolving, but it may not turn into another ChatGPT. Although it is enabled by the same models as ChatGPT, Copilot is still an assistant for developers. Copilot does not generate entire applications from a prompt, like the ChatGPT approach, but it aims to help developers work more efficiently by acting like a companion. Copilot’s goal is to suggest programming codes to humans, so developers are always in charge.

There has been a shortage of developers with programming skills. Copilot has deep implications for the traditional practice of software and application development because it has the potential to empower “citizen developers” by lowering the technical knowledge required to program and accelerating the training for developers.

Wilson Lau Technology Group Principal, Orange Silicon Valley​

Wilson is an open-minded engineer who is obsessed with applying engineering mindset in business innovation. He enjoys solving business challenges leveraging outside-the-box thinking and breakthrough technologies. As the future of work council lead at Orange Silicon Valley, he is committed to make the future of work more productive and enjoyable for humans.

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