GitHub’s controversial AI-powered coding assistant, Copilot, is now generally available to all developers.
GitHub Copilot is priced at $10 per month or $100 a year, but is free for verified students and maintainers of popular open source projects, GitHub said on June 21. A 60-day free trial also is available. Launched in a technical preview last year, the tool plugs into the user’s programming editor and suggests lines of code and functions based on the current context. Copilot can suggest complete methods, boilerplate code, unit tests, and even complex algorithms.
The AI pair programmer tool is powered by OpenAI Codex, a language model trained on billions of lines of publicly available source code and natural language, including code in public repositories on GitHub. Copilot has drawn protests from the Free Software Foundation, which has called it “unacceptable and unjust.” The foundation questioned whether training an AI model on freely licensed source code constituted fair use, and complained that the tool required running software that was not free and thus was “a service as a software substitute.”
An editor extension, Copilot integrates with editors including Neovim, Visual Studio, Visual Studio Code, and JetBrains IDEs. The technical preview attracted 1.2 million developers in the past 12 months. GitHub believes AI-assisted coding will fundamentally change the nature of software development by making it easier for developers to write code.