- Stack Overflow is embracing generative AI months after banning AI-generated responses to questions on its platform.
- The company is working to incorporate generative AI technologies into its public platform and paid service, which it believes will result in productivity gains. Stack Overflow wants to speed up developer workflows by using generative AI to quickly retrieve answers to questions by tapping into the company’s history, documentation and question-and-answer database.
- “We’ve got a dedicated team working on adding [generative] AI to Stack Overflow and Stack Overflow for Teams and will have some exciting news to share this summer,” Stack Overflow CEO Prashanth Chandrasekar said in a blog post Monday.
Stack Overflow’s public platform serves as a question-and-answer staple for developers and engineers. The platform experienced an influx of incorrect AI-generated answers to user-posed questions less than a week after ChatGPT was released late last year.
The company responded by placing a temporary ban on ChatGPT responses, a decision that was met with support. Four months later, the company’s move to incorporate generative AI technology into its platforms has garnered user criticism.
In comments to Chandrasekar's post, one user said incorporating technology like ChatGPT into the website or anywhere on the network would be “a slap in the face of all of the real contributors and their hard work and diligence to ensure that the content that is being produced comes from actual subject matter experts and those knowledgeable in the field.”
Many users of Stack Overflow’s public platform echoed these sentiments. Users pointed out concerns related to the validity of information generated by AI, information overload and data privacy as it relates to individual contributors on the platform.
“Please do not add GenAI to Stack Overflow. You're free to experiment with it, but don't pollute Stack Overflow with it,” another user commented. “We're not interested in fact-checking AI content; we are interested in generating the content ourselves.”
Stack Overflow declined to comment on whether the temporary policy barring AI-generated responses has changed.
“If AI models are powerful because they were trained on open source or publicly available code, we want to craft models that reward the users who contribute and keep the knowledge base we all rely on open and growing, ensuring we remain the top destination for knowledge on new technologies in the future,” Chandrasekar said in the blog post.
Stack Overflow declined to comment on what rewards might look like for contributors.
Generative AI has the potential to disrupt jobs across industries, from developers to educators. It has caused many people to question the velocity at which these capabilities are being embedded into platforms and tools.
“If new AI systems make it possible to create software simply by chatting with a computer, my prediction is that, far from the job of programmer disappearing, we’ll end up with millions of new software developers, as workers from fields like finance, education and art begin making use of AI-powered tools that were previously inaccessible to them,” Chandrasekar said.
AI provides a starting point and initial momentum for programmers, but the job doesn’t begin and end with an AI prompt, said Chandrasekar.
“Just as tractors made farmers more productive, we believe these new generative AI tools are something all developers will need to use if they want to remain competitive,” Chandrasekar said.