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Generative AI

Data Security and Copyright Concerns with Generative AI Coding Assistants

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In the realm of modern technology, where developers are evolving into the ‘New Wizards’ of the digital age, there’s a growing reliance on generative AI coding assistants. While these tools empower developers with almost magical capabilities, they also raise significant concerns in two key areas: data security and copyright.

Data Security: Navigating the Cloud

When utilizing an AI coding assistant, portions of your code may be transmitted to the cloud for processing. As part of selecting your coding assistant tool, ensure that you are comfortable with data retention, training purpose, and security practices of the provider. Is your data retained for any purpose or is it only stored as long as necessary to process the request? Is your data used for training? Do you trust the security of this provider? A guarantee to securely store or discard the data is devalued if the provider has a history of leaks or has not demonstrated a commitment to data security. You need to trust your cloud provider’s commitment to protecting your intellectual property. It is essential to understand their policies on data usage, storage, and security to avoid any unintended sharing or data breaches.

Many of you already store your codebase in the cloud and may be less concerned with the risks stated above. For those hesitant about sharing code externally, however, there are alternatives. Perficient can assist you in creating a custom AI coding assistant solution, one that is trained on your codebase and is not exposed outside of your infrastructure. This allows for the benefits of AI assistance while maintaining full control over your data. Additionally, some coding assistants like Sourcegraph Cody are working on a “Bring your own LLM” approach.

Copyright: Legal Implications of AI-Generated Code

AI coding assistants can generate code suggestions, but the risk lies in inadvertently using copyrighted code. Major players like Microsoft and Google have addressed this issue with certain assurances. Microsoft’s Copilot Copyright Commitment and Google’s generative AI indemnification are meant to mitigate legal costs from potential copyright issues linked to their AI suggestions. Some products do offer additional assurances that they will not include any copyrighted information unintentionally, but ultimately developers bear responsibility for the code that they commit – whether it be from a suggestion or copy / pasting from Stack Overflow. From a practical standpoint, the risk around copyright violations for writing code is going to be quite low. You are at far greater risk of running afoul of a patent troll than recreating code so valuable that it was copyrighted and that someone actually notices.

Making Informed Decisions

In summary, while generative AI coding assistants are revolutionizing software development, they also necessitate a cautious approach regarding data security and copyright issues. Developers must be well-informed about the tools they use, understanding both the capabilities and the limitations. Ensuring the security of your code and being aware of the legal implications of AI-generated suggestions are crucial steps in responsibly harnessing the power of these advanced technologies.

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Matt Connolly

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