Friend or foe: Can computer coders

Friend or foe: Can computer coders trust ChatGPT?

It felt like magic to me,” says Pietro Schirano. “It scared me a little bit because it was so good.”

He’s talking about the latest version of ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence (AI) tool. You type something in, and it makes up a reply for you.

It’s uncanny how human, friendly, and intelligent the responses seem. Underneath it is an AI model called GPT-4.

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Mr. Schirano, design lead at business finance company Brex, has been using ChatGPT to make computer programs.

“I want to build a Pong-like game,” he typed, referencing Atari’s table tennis game of the 1970s. “What’s the best language to [use] so that lots of people can try?”

ChatGPT not only recommended a programming language that runs in the browser (JavaScript) but also generated the code for a simple version of the game.

What would have taken an experienced developer half an hour to write took ChatGPT 40 seconds. It worked equally well for classic arcade games Breakout and Asteroids.

There are lots of code examples for these games online, but ChatGPT isn’t searching the internet for a ready-made answer.

Although it’s been built using huge amounts of web content, ChatGPT generates new text just for you by predicting the right answer.

“ChatGPT was able to understand my question about how I make this game more popular,” says Mr Schirano. “It has a lot of contextual understanding that somebody who’s never developed couldn’t get from Google.”

Using a search engine, you’d have to figure out which coding language to use, how to use it, and how to finish any incomplete examples online. ChatGPT can give you all the game codes, together with instructions tailored to your needs.

“Now, even somebody who has no idea of what they’re doing can create a simple web app,” says Mr Schirano.

Some say that recreating these old games was too easy because there are so many examples online.

So Mr. Schirano’s colleague Ammaar Reshi, design manager at Brex, pushed ChatGPT further. He asked it to recreate an old PC game for which there is no example code online. It’s a 3D game called Skyroads where you guide a car along a road, jumping over barriers.

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