Microsoft’s Code-Writing AI Points to the Future of Computers

Microsoft’s Code-Writing AI Points to the Future of Computers


Microsoft just showed up how artificial intelligence could find its way into many software applications by writing code on the fly.

At today’s Microsoft Build developer conference, the company’s chief technology officer, Kevin Scott, demonstrated an AI assistant for the game. Minecraft. The non-game character works with the same machine learning technology that Microsoft has tested for automatic software code generation. The feat indicates how the latest advances in AI could change personal computing in the coming years by replacing the interfaces you tap, type, and click to navigate the interfaces you simply have a conversation with.

The Minecraft agent responds appropriately to written commands by converting them into working code behind the scenes using the game software API. The bot-controlled AI model was trained in large amounts of code and text in natural language, and then the API specifications for Minecraft were shown, along with some usage examples. When a player tells you to “come here,” for example, the underlying AI model will generate the code needed for the agent to move toward the player. In the demo shown in Build, the bot was also able to perform more complex tasks, such as retrieving items and combining them to make something new. And because the model was trained in natural language and code, she can even answer simple questions about how to build things.

While it’s not clear how reliably the system can work outside of the demo, similar tricks could be used to get other applications to respond to written or spoken commands.

Microsoft has created an AI coding tool called GitHub Copilot based on the same technology. Suggest code automatically when a developer starts typing or in response to comments added to a snippet of code. Scott says Copilot is the first instance of what will likely be a large number of “AI first” products in the coming years, from Microsoft and others. Code writing AI “allows you to think about doing software development in a different way, so you can express the intent of something you want to achieve,” he says.

Scott doesn’t provide specific examples, but that could one day mean a version of Windows that locates a specific document and emails it to a colleague when you request it, or a version of Excel with artificial intelligence that converts. a data set in a graph. when you ask. “We’re going to see lots and lots and lots of great productivity wins for all sorts of routine cognitive work that none of us especially like,” says Scott.

In recent years, AI has proven to be an expert in tasks such as image classification, audio transcription, and text translation. Recent algorithmic advances, combined with large amounts of computing power, have led to new AI programs capable of more sophisticated exploits, including coherent text generation, such as computer code.

The Minecraft bot was created with an AI model called Codex that was developed by OpenAI, an AI company that received funding from Microsoft in 2019. Codex was formed with natural language text extracted from the web. , as well as billions of lines of GitHub code. , a popular software repository owned by Microsoft.

Microsoft’s co-pilot was made available to a limited number of testers in June 2021 and is now used by more than 10,000 developers who are producing, on average, about 35 percent of its code in popular languages ​​such as Python. and Java using Copilot, according to Microsoft. The company plans to make Copilot available to everyone for download this summer. To create something like the Minecraft bot, developers would have to work with the underlying AI model, Codex.

Both Codex and Copilot have aroused some anxiety among developers, who fear that they could be automated without work. The Minecraft demo could inspire similar concerns. But Scott says the feedback on Copilot has been largely positive, suggesting that it simply automates more tedious coding tasks. “If you talk to a developer who actually uses a Copilot, they’ll tell you,‘ This is a great tool, ’” he says.



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