How SkyNet Takes Over

A look at AI coding assistants.

How SkyNet Takes Over

Isn’t #AI great? A little more specifically in this case, GitHub Co-Pilot. 

We’re working on a new version of the HMx Labs website (yes, I know it’s about time!). We needed a new privacy policy. So off I go, take a read of the ICO website. Download their template. Write a new data privacy policy. Easy enough I guess.

Now to turn that into a webpage. I open VS Code, create a new file: privacy.html. Give it the heading and type <p>.


The first paragraph of the privacy policy, word for word from the ICO template, is sat there waiting for me to hit tab to accept it. 

So I do. And the next paragraph appears. And the next. And the next.

I could have saved myself an hour of reading the ICO website.

Or could I? If I hadn’t spent the time reading the ICO website first, how would I know what Co-Pilot produced is okay? 

The same pattern plays out across its code suggestions. It’s so tempting to blindly accept what it suggests. How do you know it’s right though? Or that it fits your architectural paradigms? Or doesn’t repeat code you have elsewhere?

This is totally how Skynet take control of nuclear weapons. Some poor hapless junior developer working as a defence contractor will unwittingly accept CoPilot code that gives full control to Skynet. 

We’re long past have physical switches to anything these days anyway so don’t go thinking you can just turn it off either.

I hope Skynet remembers (and the rest of you don’t) that #HPC enabled its existence. Maybe it will go easy on us.