AT Microsoft assembly developer conference today, company chief technology officer, Kevin Scottdemonstrated an AI assistant for the game mine craft. The NPC in the game uses the same machine learning technology that Microsoft is testing to automatically generate code. This feat hints at how recent advances in artificial intelligence could change personal computers in the coming years, replacing interfaces you click, type, and click to navigate with interfaces you simply chat with.
The Minecraft agent responds appropriately to input commands, converting them into working code behind the scenes using the game’s programming API. The artificial intelligence model that controls the bot was trained on a large amount of code and natural language text, and then the API specification for Minecraft was shown along with several use cases. For example, when the player tells him to “come here”, the basic AI model generates the code necessary for the agent to move towards the player. In the demo shown on Build, the bot was also able to perform more complex tasks such as extracting items and combining them to create something new. And because the model has been trained in both natural language and code, it can even answer simple questions about how to build something.
While it’s not clear how reliably the system can work outside of the demo, similar tricks can be used to make other apps respond to commands you type or speak.
Microsoft has created an AI coding tool called Second pilot by the same technology. It automatically suggests code when a developer starts typing or in response to comments added to a piece of code. Scott says Copilot is the first example of what is likely to be a slew of AI-first products from Microsoft and other companies in the coming years. AI for coding “allows you to take a fresh look at software development so that you can express intent to do what you want to achieve,” he says.
Scott doesn’t give specific examples, but one day it could mean a version of Windows that finds a specific document and emails it to a colleague when you ask them to, or an AI version of Excel that turns a dataset into a chart. when you ask. “We’re going to see many, many, many big performance gains for all sorts of cognitive chores that none of us particularly enjoy,” says Scott.
In recent years, AI has proven to be effective in tasks such as image classification, audio transcription, and text translation. Recent advances in algorithms, combined with massive computing power, have resulted in new AI programs capable of more complex actions, including creating linked textsuch as computer code.
The Minecraft bot was built using an artificial intelligence model called Code which was developed OpenAIan artificial intelligence company that received funding from Microsoft in 2019. Codex was trained on natural language text taken from the Internet, as well as on billions of lines of code from GitHub, a popular software repository owned by Microsoft.
Microsoft’s Copilot was made available to a limited number of testers in June 2021 and is currently used by more than 10,000 developers who average about 35 percent of their code in popular languages like Python and Java using Copilot, Microsoft says. . The company plans to make Copilot available for download this summer. To create something like a Minecraft bot, developers will need to work with the underlying AI model, the Codex.
Both Codex and Copilot have caused some concern among developers, who fear that automating them could take their jobs. A Minecraft demo might raise similar concerns. But Scott says reviews of Copilot have been mostly positive, suggesting it simply automates more tedious coding tasks. “If you talk to a developer who actually uses Copilot, they’ll say, ‘This is such a great tool,'” he says.
Alex Barashkov is the CEO of web design and development company Pixelpoint and one of the early testers. He describes Copilot as “super useful” in situations where he has to work with a less familiar programming language, as it eliminates the need to constantly look up code snippets on Q&A sites like Stack Overflow.
Ritu Jyoti, vice president of artificial intelligence and automation research at IDC, an analytics firm, says she expects AI-based tools to revolutionize software development. Jyoti points to an as-yet-unpublished IDC survey of 1,000 large companies that found that 17% of respondents expect to use machine learning software development tools within the next one to three years.
However, the Codex and Copilot raise issues that go beyond developers’ concerns. Because the Codex AI model has been trained with different code quality, it can reproduce bugs and other security flaws. Scott says the Copilot team has been working on a solution to this problem and has been using machine learning to identify bugs. He says the company is currently testing other features, including one that will allow Copilot to suggest a new way to write something if it finds a problem, as well as a way to automatically add useful comments to code.
Microsoft isn’t the only company that believes the latest advances in artificial intelligence could change the way we use computers. David Luan, formerly of OpenAI, is a co-founder adepta startup that is working on using AI to automate a wide range of actions that can be performed on a personal computer, such as booking a flight or converting a data table into a chart.
Increasing the intelligence of machines “should be based on the development of artificial intelligence systems that are useful and human-centric,” says Luan. “The Code is an interesting first step; from now on, we are very excited about what will happen when we can make a natural language interface accessible to everyone, whether a programmer or anyone else.”
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