Getting paperclipped: Exploring AI-assisted coding

It’s been just over 6 years since my last post here. A lot1 has happened in that time, but one thing that did not happen was me continuing to work on Sky. If you’ve been anxiously awaiting the hash function I promised at the end of the last post, I’m sorry to say we’re not continuing that thread just now.

I did recently write a little Lisp VM in TypeScript (bunny-lisp) as a conversation piece to present at work though, which was fun.

Anyway, what I want to do now is to start a series of posts on AI (or “AI” if you prefer - the generative models like OpenAI’s GPT series that are all the rage at the moment). In particular, I want to try using them for AI-assisted coding.

I’ll be coming at this from the perspective of a curious beginner, because that’s what I am. And, at least to start, from a user perspective - rather than an implementer - though I may dig deeper later.

What do I hope to get out of AI-assisted coding? Ideally, two things:

  1. Productivity - if integrating AI into software development workflows can boost your productivity, then it’s an important tool to have (and to learn to use effectively) for obvious reasons.
  2. Learning - I like learning new things (which is convenient, since it would be hard to avoid in a career in software) and interacting with LLMs potentially provides an interesting and more fluid way to do that than traditional means.

I am, to be honest, a bit skeptical on both of these. But, the potential upside is too great not to invest more than the trivial amount I have so far2.

Inspired by do 100 things, I’m going to try to keep these posts reasonably low-effort3, aiming for “interesting” but not, for example, “polished” or “comprehensive”. With that in mind… see you next time!

  1. I moved across the country, I’ve slung bits at a couple hypergrowth startups, there was a global pandemic, I almost got married and then didn’t… you know, life stuff. ↩︎

  2. Not much more than enabling GitHub Copilot in my editor and deciding I actually kind of hate having slop appear in my editor while I’m trying to work. ↩︎

  3. If I let my perfectionist side get traction here, that decreases the chances that I’ll continue the posts at all. ↩︎