In November a lawyer and computer programmer named Matthew Butterick sued the tech companies GitHub, Microsoft and OpenAI, saying a tool called GitHub Copilot that automatically generates computer code is essentially plagiarizing the work of human software developers in a way that violates their licenses. The wronged parties in the case, in Butterick's eyes, are the developers who worked on open source coding projects without explicitly giving permission for their code to be used to help artificial intelligence learn to program on its own.
This is an early skirmish in the battle about how such AI tools scramble the ideas of ownership, copyright and authenticity online. These tools had a banner year in 2022, and one likely result is that conflicts such as this will begin playing out in earnest in 2023.
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