Group: Copilot Watch Group/Research

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Copilot Research

  • Note: This is a work-in-progress. Please add your research and findings below. We are just trying to put things in a public-facing location, so that others can participate. Thank you!*

Objective/Purpose

To find out what is bad about copilot, and to what extent. Please add any research you have done below, as we are trying to understand better what Copilot is doing and in what ways it is bad for free software and its users.

Research Findings

Scholarly Research

Five papers on the implications of copilot were published by the Free Software Foundation and are available at: https://www.fsf.org/news/publication-of-the-fsf-funded-white-papers-on-questions-around-copilot

Videos

Mentions in Publications or Talks

Richard Stallman discusses the implications of copilot briefly in his talk "The state of the free software movement." See from timestamp [0:38:24] on LibrePlanet:Conference/2022/Transcripts/RMS-state-of-free-software

Relevant articles


Notable from video

  • Users may just type comments of functions they want, and the code appears for them below
  • (May be out of date but...) license text can be "summoned" verbatim (but line by line). This could be problematic even if it wasn't verbatim because what if a user just copied most, but "tweaked" a few things in, for example, the GPL.

Not yet known

  • How many lines of code can be copied verbatim? (Certainly, the license copy example is too much) And, how many lines can be copied?
  • To what extent are the keystrokes etc. of copilot users being tracked and analyzed by Microsoft?

Preliminary conclusions

(These need to be verified and backed up with research. Please provide links, if you have them.)

  • People say, (and even GitHub's own Web site says,) "0.1% of the time, the code is verbatim"
  • Certainly, copilot never tells you what code any of this is being copied from (nor its license) no matter how many lines of code.
  • Using copilot requires running nonfree software (e.g. visual composer, GitHub's javascript), which in itself is an injustice.
  • Copilot is a SaaSS