Published on August 6th, 2020 | by Emergent Enterprise0
This AI Could Bring Us Computers That Can Write Their Own Software
This is what one of the primary functions of AI should be: make the mundane effortless. Jason Dorrier gives an update at SingularityHub about the wide open potential of GPT-3, the new language generation AI from OpenAI. Like many revolutionary technologies (think Photoshop, for instance), GPT-3 will show its true powers once creative developers begin to use it in their own innovations – and they are already. There are countless digital tasks in the business world that need to be conducted more efficiently, accurately and quickly. GPT-3 could be a gamechanger for the goals of artificial intelligence.
When OpenAI first published a paper on their new language generation AI, GPT-3, the hype was slow to build. The paper indicated GPT-3, the biggest natural language AI model yet, was advanced, but it only had a few written examples of its output. Then OpenAI gave select access to a beta version of GPT-3 to see what developers would do with it, and minds were blown.
Developers playing with GPT-3 have taken to Twitter with examples of its capabilities: short stories, press releases, articles about itself, a search engine. Perhaps most surprising was the discovery GPT-3 can write simple computer code. When web developer, Sharif Shameem, modified it to spit out HTML instead of natural language, the program generated code for webpage layouts from prompts like “a button that looks like a watermelon.”
“I used to say that AI research seemed to have an odd blind spot towards automation of programming work, and I suspected a subconscious self-preservation bias,” tweeted John Carmack, legendary computer game developer and consulting CTO at Oculus VR. “The recent, almost accidental, discovery that GPT-3 can sort of write code does generate a slight shiver.”
While the discovery of GPT-3’s coding skills may have been somewhat serendipitous, there is, in fact, a whole field dedicated to the development of machine learning algorithms that can code. The research has been making progress, and a new algorithm just recently took another step.
The algorithm, called machine inferred code similarity (MISIM), is the brainchild of researchers from Intel, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Pennsylvania, and MIT. Trained on the huge amount of code already publicly available on the web, MISIM can figure out what a program is supposed to do. Then, after finding other similar programs and comparing it to them, MISIM can offer ways to make the program faster or more efficient.
It isn’t the first machine learning algorithm to make recommendations or compare similarity, but according to the researchers in a new preprint paper on MISIM, it was up to 40 times more accurate at the task when it went head to head with several of its most advanced competitors.
Near term, the AI could be a useful sidekick for today’s programmers. Further out, the field could open programming to anyone who can describe what they want to create in everyday language or bring machines that write and maintain their own code.
The Machine Programming Dream
The pursuit of computers that can code is almost as old as modern computer science itself. While there have been advances in programming automation, the recent explosion in machine learning is accelerating progress in a field called machine programming.
In a 2018 paper on the field, a group of Intel and MIT researchers wrote, “The general goal of machine programming is to remove the burden of writing correct and efficient code from a human programmer and to instead place it on a machine.”