GitHub Copilot is an autocomplete tool for developers designed by GitHub and Anthropic. It integrates directly into code editors like Visual Studio Code and suggests full lines of code and entire functions as developers type. Copilot is designed to boost productivity by reducing repetitive coding tasks.
The tool is powered by an AI system called Codex which was trained on billions of lines of public code from GitHub repositories. According to GitHub, Codex can suggest over 40% of a developer’s code across a wide variety of languages and frameworks.
How Does GitHub Copilot Work?
GitHub Copilot generates suggestions by analyzing the code context and developer intent. There are two main ways Copilot provides value:
Code Completions and Suggestions
Copilot can autocomplete boilerplate code, names of variables and functions, and other code building blocks as you type. This saves developers time typing out repetitive code patterns.
Copilot looks at the code around where the developer is actively editing. It uses this context to suggest entire lines or blocks of relevant code that adhere to best practices.
For example, if you defined a variable called
user_name, Copilot may suggest getting the length of the string using
.length later on when that variable is referenced again. The tool has an understanding of what directions code should go in based on context.
What is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is a conversational AI chatbot created by Anthropic as well. It uses a natural language processing model to understand text prompts and generate human-like responses on any topic.
Unlike Copilot, ChatGPT is not specialized for writing code – its training data and architecture are focused on open-ended dialog.
Language Model Creation
ChatGPT was trained on a diverse dataset of online dialog extracted from millions of websites, books, and other sources. This provided it with a very broad understanding of natural conversation patterns and world knowledge.
ChatGPT can answer general knowledge questions, explain concepts, summarize long passages of text, write essays, compose poems and songs, translate between languages, and more. It aims to have a thoughtful, nuanced dialog on any subject imaginable.
Differences Between GitHub Copilot and ChatGPT
While Copilot and ChatGPT were created by the same company, there are some key differences under the hood:
Intended Use Cases
As noted above, Copilot is specialized for code while ChatGPT handles general dialog. Copilot streamlines software development whereas ChatGPT mimics human conversation.
Copilot was trained on open source code while ChatGPT learned from broader dialog data. This translates to very different capabilities aligned with their use cases.
For programming tasks, Copilot generally provides higher-quality suggestions than ChatGPT since it is purpose-built for code. But ChatGPT produces more natural conversational text.
Does GitHub Copilot Use ChatGPT?
Given their different training data and applications, is there any direct relationship between GitHub Copilot and ChatGPT?
Copilot does not use the ChatGPT engine or model architecture under the hood. They were trained separately for different purposes. Copilot’s code suggestions are powered by Codex, not ChatGPT.
However, as products from the same company, there are likely indirect influences between ChatGPT and Copilot advancements. Lessons learned training ChatGPT may inform Copilot iterations, even if the core models differ significantly.
So while Copilot does not utilize ChatGPT itself, there is some high-level knowledge sharing occurring. But the engines generating code vs. dialog remain distinct.
The Future of AI Assistants
As AI assistants like Copilot and ChatGPT continue to evolve, there are some key trends to watch:
Advances in Capabilities
Both tools will become more adept at their respective tasks. Copilot will keep improving code suggestion quality and relevance while ChatGPT will become an even more natural conversation partner.
As these AIs become more sophisticated, developers must consider potential downsides like bias in training data. Ongoing education on ethics is important.
The Outlook for Developers
Tools like GitHub Copilot promise to amplify human developers exponentially. Coding will become more creative and collaborative rather than tedious. But testing and oversight are still essential.
In summary, GitHub Copilot does not directly utilize the ChatGPT engine for generating code suggestions. The Copilot and ChatGPT models have architectures optimized for different use cases – programming versus open dialog.
However, high-level learnings are likely shared between the two initiatives, both spearheaded by Anthropic.
AI assistants are progressing rapidly, allowing developers to focus on big picture thinking. But human guidance remains critical to foster ethical, unbiased AI.
Does GitHub Copilot use the same model as ChatGPT?
No, GitHub Copilot uses Codex which is optimized for code while ChatGPT uses a separate dialog model. The underlying architectures differ significantly.
Can ChatGPT write code like GitHub Copilot?
Not as fluently or accurately since ChatGPT wasn’t specifically trained on programming tasks. But it can generate simple code with the right prompts.
Why can’t GitHub Copilot hold a conversation like ChatGPT?
Copilot was trained narrowly on code, not broader dialog data. So it excels at coding but not open-ended chats.
What is the future outlook for AI coding tools?
The future is bright for assisted coding. As tools like Copilot improve, developers will spend less time on drudgery and more time innovating. But human oversight of AI ethics remains crucial.
Will Copilot eventually replace developers entirely?
It’s unlikely Copilot will automate developers out of a job entirely. Its role is to augment human abilities, not replace them. Creativity and critical thinking are still needed.