Collecting my attempts to improve at tech, art, and life

Nah on Copilot for now

Tags: tools llm

GitHub Copilot is a development tool from Microsoft driven by a Large Language Model — one piece of the very big tech trend described as Artificial Intelligence.

Copilot acts as a super-powered autocomplete for developers. Sort of like an LSP, but this goes much further. Where an LSP might give you an identifier or point you to a definition, Copilot generates entire expressions and blocks of code. It assembles reasonable-looking code from what it’s been fed, including your own current projects.

Some people like Copilot.

This technology is in its infancy and it’s already writing code that’s better than many developers I’ve met.

— Curtis Poe, Using Github Copilot with Vim

Some people dislike it so much they are taking Microsoft to court over it.

By training their AI sys­tems on pub­lic GitHub repos­i­to­ries (though based on their pub­lic state­ments, pos­si­bly much more) we con­tend that the defen­dants have vio­lated the legal rights of a vast num­ber of cre­ators who posted code or other work under cer­tain open-source licenses on GitHub.

GitHub Copilot litigation · Joseph Saveri Law Firm & Matthew Butterick

I tried Copilot out, even though I’m unhappy about the wholesale appropriation of publicly visible code regardless of license. Ignoring it seemed impractical. What if it really is a game-changer?

After a month? No. Copilot is not a useful tool for me. It’s always offering helpful suggestions. Those suggestions are frequently incorrect. Its errors are not always obvious. But it’ll keep offering them until you make it stop.

I think Copilot would work better if I used fewer languages and experimented with fewer frameworks. As it is, the experience is not unlike pair programming with someone who always tries to paste in the top result from Stack Overflow.

“Here’s some React code!”

That’s nice, but I’m writing an Astro component.

“Here’s what that algorithm looks like!”

Thank you! Wait no. This is Python. My code is Nim.

My Copilot trial run has been a month of occasional usefulness in a sea of interruptions just as I was typing something. It changes the game all right. And the new game is “let me break your flow.”

So no. Not for me in its current form.

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Added to vault 2024-01-15. Updated on 2024-02-01