Article Derived From Transcript of YouTube Video: With AI, Anyone Can Be a Coder Now | Thomas Dohmke | TED

Transcript of YouTube Video: With AI, Anyone Can Be a Coder Now | Thomas Dohmke | TED

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The speaker, a LEGO enthusiast and the CEO of GitHub, discusses the evolution of programming languages from the 1940s to the present day, highlighting the complexity and inaccessibility of traditional coding. He then introduces GitHub Copilot, an AI-powered tool that revolutionizes software development by predicting and completing code, making it more intuitive and accessible. The speaker demonstrates how Copilot simplifies the coding process, allowing developers to interact with the tool through natural language and voice commands, making programming more inclusive. He envisions a future where the number of software developers on GitHub will skyrocket to over a billion, as the barrier to entry into programming is significantly reduced. The talk concludes with the idea that while AI will assist in software development, the role of human creativity and oversight will remain essential.

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Personal Affinity for LEGO and Role at GitHub

You know, I'm one of these adults that actually still loves playing with LEGO. I loved them way back in the '80s in Berlin when I grew up, and I still love them. And these days, I build LEGO with my kids on Saturday afternoons. And the reason that my love for LEGO has remained evergreen is, quite simply, that LEGO is a system for realizing creativity with almost no barrier to entry. And I’m not only a LEGO dad, I'm also the CEO of GitHub. And if you don't know GitHub, you can think of it as the home of coding. It's where all the software developers, the chief nerds of our society, collaborate together.

The Accessibility of Software Development

And it's part of our mission to make it as easy as possible for every developer to build small and big ideas with code. But in contrast to LEGO, the process of building software feels daunting to most people. This all started to change when ChatGPT came along in late 2022. Now we live in a world where intelligent machines understand us as much as we understand them. All because of language. And this will forever change the way we create software.

Historical Perspective on Coding

Up until now, in order to create software, you had to be a professional software developer. You had to understand, speak and interpret the highly complex, sometimes nonsensical language of a machine that we call code. Modern code still looks like hieroglyphics to most people. Here's an example. This, from the early 1940s, is the world's first computer programming language, called Plankalkül. It set the foundation for the modern code that we use today.

Evolution of Programming Languages

Flash forward about 20 years to the programming language called COBOL. COBOL was invented during the Eisenhower years, but it remains an important language for many of our largest financial institutions. Wall Street, your savings account, your credit cards, all run on this today. And we see some familiar words here. But structurally, I think this doesn't make much sense to most of you. Flash forward another 30 years to 1991, and we saw the birth of Python, one of the most popular programming languages in this era of AI.

The Emergence of AI in Coding

But then came June 2020, and we got early access to OpenAI's large language model, then called GPT-3. It was COVID, we were all on lockdown, I remember we were on a video call together. We fed random programming exercises into this raw model, and like magic, it solved 93 percent of them during the first few takes. We at GitHub recognized we had something remarkable in our hands, and we quickly turned around a novel developer tool called GitHub Copilot: an AI assistant that predicts and completes code for software developers.

The Impact of GitHub Copilot

Copilot is now the most adopted AI developer tool on the planet. The age of programming has been reborn. But the possibilities of the breakthrough went further than just these business results. Because the large language models that power ChatGPT and Copilot are trained on a vast library of human information, they understand and interpret nearly every human language. They seem to get us. We have struck a new fusion between the language of a human and a machine.

The Democratization of Software Creation

With Copilot, any person can now build software in any human language with a single written prompt. Goodbye to the bubbles and the big-ass bracket. This is the most profound breakthrough to technology since the genesis of software development itself. Today, there are over 100 million developers on GitHub. That's about one percent of the world's population, you know, plus-minus. I think that number is about to explode.

Demonstrating GitHub Copilot in Action

We started it all with the original Copilot or how we say the OG Copilot, and it literally just predicted and completed code in the editor. You can think of the editor as, you know, the Google Docs for developers. And when you have a doc open, you know how it is, empty page, what do I actually want to do? And I mentioned LEGO. So let’s build a 3D LEGO brick on a web page.

Introducing GitHub Copilot Chat

Last year we launched a new feature, Copilot chat, and you can think about it as ChatGPT in your editor. So I can open this up here in the sidebar. And now I can tell it to create a whole web page with a 3D LEGO brick for me. Now you know, similar to ChatGPT, it streams the response, and it gives me not only some code but it actually gives me an explanation.

The Future of Software Development with GitHub Copilot Workspace

And so for the first time ever on stage, I'm going to show you a new product that we call Copilot Workspace that does exactly that. So here is my workspace. And you can already see there's not an editor anymore. I can just see a task, and I can enter a task. And so now I have my LEGO brick, I want to now expand the LEGO brick into a LEGO house. Stack the bricks in the shape of a LEGO house.

The Potential of GitHub Copilot Workspace

And now what happens is that Copilot Workspace analyzes what I already have and then describes what it proposes to me. Basically, it reframes my ask into a plan or a specification. And so you can see here, you know, it's all in natural language in our user. Some file names, of course, but there is no code here. It's all describing it in English.

The Vision for a Billion Developers

Now one last thing. Thank you, Copilot, you have always to be nice to the AI. Now, what you just saw were three leaps in three years. Three leaps that are more progress to the accessibility of computer programming than we have made in the last 100. Remember how I said that one percent of the world's population is a developer? Now you can see how this will change.

Final Thoughts and Q&A

Now this doesn’t mean that everyone will become a professional software developer or even that they should. The profession of a professional software developer is not going anywhere. There will always be demand for those that design and maintain the largest software systems in the world. The point here is not a "will" or a "should." It's that anyone can. All because the most powerful system that we have, any human language, is now fused to the language of a machine. And very soon, building software will be just as simple and joyful as stacking a LEGO.


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