Microsoft's new AI can code by stealing bits of code from other software

Thief looter looting riot stealing rioter protests genevaIan Waldie/Getty ImagesPictured: A Microsoft AI programmer hard at work.

A new artificial intelligence (AI) program built by Microsoft and Cambridge University researchers is able to solve programming problems — by stealing code from other programs.

It’s called DeepCoder, and by cribbing bits of code from other existing software, it can solve programming challenges its developers throw at it.

It was first reported on by New Scientist, and you can read the researchers’ full paper below.

Right now, DeepCoder is basic, with limits to what it can do — but it’s a significant step forward, and it already has potential (simple) real-world applications.

“We have found several problems in real online programming challenges that can be solved with a program in our language,” the researchers wrote in a paper on their findings, adding that it “validates the relevance of the class of problems that we have studied in this work.”

DeepCoder works by looking at inputs and outputs for different bits of code it has been given. It learns which piece can produce what output, and places them together accordingly to create new programs capable of solving the problem at hand.

Building AI capable of sophisticated coding would be a major breakthrough, one that could revolutionise the development of software. Anyone who wishes to build a program could simply direct it as to what they want it to do, even without technical expertise.

“A dream of artificial intelligence is to build systems that can write computer programs,” the researchers wrote.

Here’s the full paper on DeepCoder:

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