Research raises concerns over AI impact on code quality

Recent findings from GitClear, a developer analytics firm, indicate that the increasing reliance on AI assistance in software development may be adversely affecting code quality. The study, which analyzed a staggering 150 million changed lines of code from both private and open-source projects, has brought to light several concerning trends, including a rise in code churn and a higher incidence of repetitive code.

GitHub’s Copilot, a leading AI coding assistant used by over a million developers, has been reported to increase task completion speed by 55 per cent, with 46 per cent of code in enabled files being generated by the tool. However, GitClear’s research shifts the focus from the quantity to the quality of code produced with AI assistance. The study points out that AI tools tend to suggest additions to the code but seldom recommend updates, relocations, or deletions. This pattern raises questions about the conciseness and readability of the resulting code.

A significant finding of the research is the increase in code churn, which has escalated to 7.1 per cent from 3.3 per cent in 2020. Additionally, there has been a noted decrease in the movement of code, suggesting a reduction in code refactoring activities. The researchers have expressed concerns over the growing tendency to use copied and pasted code, citing it as a major challenge for the long-term maintainability of software.

While the exact reasons behind these trends are subject to speculation, the researchers associate them with the burgeoning use of AI in coding. They advise engineering leaders to closely monitor these trends and consider their potential impact on future product maintenance.

The study concludes that AI coding assistants, in their current state, are unlikely to replace human developers. The AI tools are deemed too error-prone and not yet capable of securely modifying existing code. This insight may offer some reassurance to developers who fear being supplanted by AI, highlighting the current limitations and challenges of AI in coding scenarios.

Sources Include: The Register

Jim Love
Jim Love
I've been in IT and business for over 30 years. I worked my way up, literally from the mail room and I've done every job from mail clerk to CEO. Today I'm CIO and Chief Digital Officer of IT World Canada - Canada's leader in ICT publishing and digital marketing.

Would you recommend this article?


Thanks for taking the time to let us know what you think of this article!
We'd love to hear your opinion about this or any other story you read in our publication.

Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

Featured Download

ITW in your inbox

Our experienced team of journalists and bloggers bring you engaging in-depth interviews, videos and content targeted to IT professionals and line-of-business executives.

More Best of The Web