GitHub Copilot, the AI-based tool designed to help developers write code is adding a new code referencing tool in private beta. This new tool will be able to inform developers when code suggestions from GitHub Copilot match code from public repositories.
As you may know, GitHub Copilot was trained on billions of lines of public code. And according to GitHub, it’s already being used by over 1 million developers.
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Previous research from GitHub showed that matches with public code occur in less than one percent of GitHub Copilot suggestions. This new code referencing feature will allow developers using GitHub Copilot to decide what to do when the AI assistant suggests code coming from public repositories.
“Some want to learn from others’ work, others may want to take a dependency rather than introduce new app logic, and still others want to give or receive credit for similar work. Whatever the reason, it’s nice to know when similar code is out there,” the GitHub team explained.
In practice, developers will be able to either block code suggestions coming from public repositories or use them and decide who to attribute. In any case, GitHub Copilot will show matches with information about every repository in which they appear right in the editor.
To try code referencing with GitHub Copilot, developers need to sign up for the waitlist on this page.