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Hugging Face Introduces Generative AI Coding Assistant StarCoder

Hugging Face has unveiled a free generative AI computer code writer named StarCoder. The new code generator, built in partnership with ServiceNow Research, offers an alternative to GitHub Copilot, an early example of Microsoft’s strategy to enhance as much of its portfolio with generative AI as possible.

StarCoder Programming

Hugging Face and “digital workflow” company ServiceNow are members of an effort to develop more open AI tools and models called the BigCode Project. The 15-billion parameter StarCoder LLM is one example of their ambitions. StarCoder trained on a trillion tokens of licensed source code in more than 80 programming languages, pulled from BigCode’s The Stack v1.2 dataset. StarCoder provides an AI pair programmer like Copilot with text-to-code and text-to-workflow capabilities. It’s open-access but with some limits under the Code Open RAIL-M license, forbidding the creation and spread of malicious viruses, for instance.

“The joint efforts led by Hugging Face and ServiceNow enable the release of powerful base models that empower the community to build a wide range of applications more efficiently than a single company could come up with,” Hugging Face machine learning engineer and BigCode co-lead Leandro von Werra said. “This endeavor is a testament to the potential of open-source as we work toward democratizing AI.”

Writing code has become an essential piece of generative AI product portfolios. Copilot has since been joined by Amazon’s CodeWhisperer and Google’s Codey, for instance. The obvious benefit of a tool that can reduce the time and cost of software development is only enhanced by the apparent enthusiasm of coders. At least one GitHub survey found developers like that Copilot and presumably similar tools cut down the boring parts of programming and allow more time for the creative and interesting parts of the job.

“ServiceNow’s collaboration with Hugging Face expands our longstanding commitment to AI excellence,” said Harm de Vries, lead of the Large Language Model Lab at ServiceNow Research and co-lead of BigCode. “New, responsible AI practices to train and share large language models are vital to ensuring the right protocols, safeguards, and permissive licenses are in place for our customers, and StarCoder is making this possible.”

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