AI Coding Tools Speed Process to Offset Developer Shortage

New AI-powered coding tools such as Amazon’s CodeWhisperer and Copilot from GitHub and OpenAI may be giving some developers the jitters. Following splashy debuts for both programs last week, GitHub CEO Thomas Dohmke offered public assurances that Copilot is not designed to replace coders, but to speed the process, alleviating a software developer shortage. Similar to Copilot, CodeWhisperer can autocomplete Java, JavaScript and Python functions based on a comment or some keystrokes. Amazon says it trained the system using billions of lines of open source code, publicly available documentation and its own codebase.

Speaking last week at the Collision 2022 investment conference for startups, Dohmke said the code-writing process remains “mostly manual.” The new AI-assisted tools work like predictive-text features, suggesting options, including for code strings for micro-tasks within a more comprehensive programming scheme.

Developers can also request suggestions from Copilot, which was announced in March. GitHub, a division of Microsoft, “charges users $10 per month, or $100 a year” to use Copilot, according to The Wall Street Journal.

GitHub says Copilot “can cut application development times in half, with an average of 40 percent of code in users’ applications generated automatically,” writes WSJ.

The 620,000 technical job openings posted in May reflect roughly a 50 percent increase when compared with the same period in 2021, according to IT trade group CompTIA. “Software developers were by far the most sought-after tech workers, accounting for more than 200,000 job postings in May alone,” WSJ reports.

Amazon recently announced that its CodeWhisperer is now “available in preview as part of the AWS Toolkit for integrated development environments (IDEs),” writes TechCrunch.

Amazon VP in charge of AI services Vasi Philomin emphasized differences between CodeWhisperer and Copilot, explaining that CodeWhisperer will scan for security vulnerabilities and was backed up by Amazon’s highly regarded technical support.

TechCrunch writes that while Amazon says “the system will work just fine for developers outside of the AWS ecosystem,” Philomin notes that “when we say it has first-class support for AWS API, it’s only additional stuff. In terms of all of our measurements and all of our testing, we find it works remarkably well and it’ll be state-of-the-art.”