Researchers from Microsoft have presented a new program based on the GPT-3 tool that helps you develop sites, applications and algorithms without code. To do this, all queries must be written in natural language.
In September 2020, Microsoft purchased an exclusive license for the technology behind GPT-3, an AI language tool created by OpenAI. Now, the US tech giant has announced the program’s first commercial use case: a helper function in PowerApps that turns natural language into finished code.
This feature is limited in scope and can only create formulas in Microsoft Power Fx, a simple programming language from Microsoft Excel formulas that is used primarily for database queries. However, it demonstrates the tremendous potential of machine learning for helping novice programmers by functioning as a code completion tool.
“There is a huge demand for digital solutions, but there are not enough encoders. The US alone lacks a million developers, the researchers note. “So instead of forcing the whole world to learn to code, why don’t we make development environments speak the language of ordinary people?”
Microsoft has been developing its Power Platform for several years, a suite of code-free software designed for enterprise customers. These programs work like web applications and help companies that cannot hire experienced programmers to solve basic digital tasks such as analytics, data visualization, and workflow automation.
Application elements designed in Power Platform, such as buttons, can be dragged and moved around the application – a process very similar to working in PowerPoint. But creating menus that allow users to run specific queries against the database (such as finding all shipments that were delivered to a specific location at a specific time) requires basic coding in the form of Microsoft Power Fx formulas.
Rather than forcing users to learn how to query the database in Power Fx, Microsoft is updating PowerApps so they can simply write their query in natural language, which GPT-3 then translates into usable code. Thus, users do not even need to have special data.