OpenAI Codex Translates English Into Programming Code

Artificial intelligence (AI) research lab, OpenAI, has updated its OpenAI Codex, which some may feel could do away with the need for programmers.

The machine learning tool translates the English language into programming code, and the non-profit lab in a blog post revealed it has begun offering a private beta of the tool from this week.

OpenAI has been around since late 2015, when it was founded in San Francisco by Elon Musk, Sam Altman, and others after they pledged $1 billion. Elon Musk resigned from the board in 2018 but remains a donor.

Natural language programming

A year later in 2019, OpenAI received a $1 billion investment from Microsoft, which is hardly surprising considering that Microsoft made AI a cornerstone of its ‘digital transformation’ vision and has partnered OpenAI since 2016.

Since that time, OpenAI used Azure as its primary cloud platform to create AI tools and further its research and the two organisations have worked together to advance the field.

But now OpenAI has updated its Codex for the developer and programmer community.

“We’ve created an improved version of OpenAI Codex, our AI system that translates natural language to code, and we are releasing it through our API in private beta starting today,” it said in a blog post.

“Codex is the model that powers GitHub Copilot, which we built and launched in partnership with GitHub a month ago,” it added. “Proficient in more than a dozen programming languages, Codex can now interpret simple commands in natural language and execute them on the user’s behalf – making it possible to build a natural language interface to existing applications. We are now inviting businesses and developers to build on top of OpenAI Codex through our API.”

A YouTube demo of its model that can write code, is available here.

It show developers asking a computer to do something, just be speaking to it, and the model then writes the code and carries out the instruction.

The demo also shows how the Codex can be used to build simple websites and rudimentary games using natural language.

The demo also shows how the Codex can translate between different programming languages and tackle data science queries.

No more programmers?

So does this mean the end of developers and programmers?

Well no.

The hope is the machine learning tool will actually help speed up the work of professional programmers, as well as help amateurs to start coding for themselves.

“It takes people who are already programmers and removes the drudge work. We see this as a tool to multiply programmers,” OpenAI’s CTO and co-founder Greg Brockman told The Verge.

“Programming has two parts to it: you have ‘think hard about a problem and try to understand it,’ and ‘map those small pieces to existing code, whether it’s a library, a function, or an API,’” Brockman was quoted as saying.

“The second part is tedious, but it’s what Codex is best at,” he reportedly said. “It takes people who are already programmers and removes the drudge work.”

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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