Microsoft and Github have unveiled a new version of their popular coding assistant, Copilot. Dubbed “Copilot X” the new version offers a range of new features, the most interesting of which is the “Copilot Chat.” This feature allows developers to talk to GPT-4, the new language model that powers Copilot X, about specific segments of code, enabling them to better understand or modify it.
Copilot X can identify errors in the code and suggest improvements, or make them directly based on natural language input. This “ChatGPT-like” coding experience will also be available via voice input, meaning developers won’t even need a keyboard to code. This feature is a significant step forward for the software, which goes beyond simple code autocompletion to make Copilot X a “readily accessible AI assistant throughout the entire development lifecycle.”
In addition to the chat feature, Copilot X now provides an option to automatically generate pull requests using GPT-4. Developers can review and approve these pull requests, further streamlining their workflow. Copilot documentation now uses the much longer context option of GPT-4 to make answers from software documentation available via chat. Initially, React, Azure Docs, and MDN documentation are available.
The move to GPT-4 is significant because it outperforms Codex, the model that powered the original Copilot. Codex was a code-optimized derivative of GPT-3 developed by OpenAI. Microsoft and Github’s decision to move to GPT-4, a general-purpose language model that has also learned to code, is a clear indication that large language models are having their greatest impact as general-purpose technologies.
Although GPT-4 has only just been released, Github reports that it is already seeing “significant gains in logical reasoning and code generation.” This discovery has led OpenAI to announce that Codex will be discontinued, although researchers can still access it.
Github CEO Thomas Dohmke is excited about the potential of Copilot X and the impact it could have on developer productivity. “With AI available at every step, we can fundamentally redefine developer productivity,” he said. “We are reducing boilerplate and manual tasks and making complex work easier across the developer lifecycle.”
The new features of Copilot X are available as a technical preview or via a waiting list. For developers who want to see these features in action, you can check the video above. The new version of Copilot represents a significant step forward in the use of AI in software development and is likely to have a significant impact on the industry in the years to come.