Welcome to the AI-Assisted Programming and Copyleft mailing list!

Bradley M. Kuhn bkuhn at sfconservancy.org
Fri Mar 11 01:42:16 UTC 2022

I welcome everyone to this mailing list.  As we discussed in our
announcement (which can be found here
we have formed a committee of experts (most of whom have a long history in
copyleft policy and study — and all of whom have excellent background of
experience to inform us on this topic).  This Committee will initially meet
monthly, and we'll be posting minutes of those meetings to this list.  Some
members of the Committee, including me, will engage regularly with this
public discussion and bring feedback from the public discussion to the Committee.

AI-assisted software development is an entirely new endeavor in the history
of software development.  We don't plan to jump to any conclusions, and we
encourage others not to do so as well.  We are seeking to focus this
discussion not in a *retrospective*, but in a *prospective* approach to the
problem.  By that, I mean that we won't focus on how copyleft licenses, or
even existing copyright law (*as they stand today*) impact or interrelate to
the issue.  The copyleft incumbent analysis (which has been developed over
decades to deal only with human-authored software) can and should *inform*
our analysis of this novel issue, but I don't believe it should dominate it.

Our work here seeks to:

  * understand what the implications are for the
    software freedom of users and developers should the AI-assisted methods of
    software development become dominant, and

  * to formulate and promulgate policy recommendations for copyleft
    licensing that can mitigate the threat (if any) that these AI-assisted
    software development techniques have on software freedom and rights.

I meanwhile see some early discussion on this list already has tended toward
the retrospective approach.  While I think it will be impossible to prevent
threads of that nature and, provided discussion is civil, I won't (as list
moderator) seek to curtail those threads.  However, you may find me
commenting from time to time that we keep the "eyes on the prize" of a
prospective analysis and recommendations.

It's rare that some technology comes along that's revolutionary rather than
evolutionary.  While we cannot be certain AI-assisted software development
*is* a revolutionary technology, it seems plausible that it might be.
Regardless, we must operate under the hypothesis that it is revolution,
since the stakes for the future of software freedom are very high.  We must
be creative and dilligent as we seek solutions.

I look forward to many interesting discussions.
Bradley M. Kuhn - he/him
Policy Fellow & Hacker-in-Residence at Software Freedom Conservancy
Become a Conservancy Sustainer today: https://sfconservancy.org/sustainer

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