Why DeepMind’s AlphaCode is no match for a human programmer

This article is part of our reviews of AI research papers, a series of posts that explore the latest findings in artificial intelligence.

DeepMind is the latest AI research lab to introduce a deep learning model that can generate software source code with remarkable results. Called AlphaCode, the model is based on Transformers, the same architecture OpenAI uses in its code-generation models.

Programming is one of the promising applications of deep learning and large language models. The growing demand for programming talent has spurred a race to create tools that can make developers more productive and give non-developers tools to create software.

And in this regard, AlphaCode surely impresses. It has managed to solve complicated programming challenges that typically require hours of planning, coding, and testing. It might one day become a good tool to turn problem descriptions into working code.

But it certainly isn’t the equivalent of a human programmer of any level. It’s a totally different approach to creating software, one that isn’t complete without human thinking and intuition.

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