GitHub chief executive Thomas Dohmke believes India can become a world leader in artificial intelligence (AI), thanks to its rapidly growing developer base.

India, the world’s second-largest internet economy, is set to overtake the US as the largest developer community on GitHub by 2027.

GitHub today revealed that there are more than 15.4 million developers in India building on the Microsoft-owned developer platform, registering a 33 percent year-over-year increase. The firm had 13.2 million developers in India at the end of 2023.

In an interview with Money controlIndia is the fastest growing market for the company, growing even faster than the US, Dohmke said.

GitHub, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2018 for $7.5 billion, is now working on incorporating AI at every stage of the developer lifecycle. This includes code completion tool Copilot in 2022, Copilot Chat for natural language-driven coding in 2023, and AI developer environment GitHub Copilot Workspace in April 2024.

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With the latest advances in AI and tools like GitHub Copilot, Dohmke believes natural language will be the universal programming language of the future, allowing anyone to code in their own language.

He also says that AI will not replace developers but instead create more jobs.

Edited excerpts

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You have been in India since last week. What on earth are you looking at as far as AI is concerned?

I’ve seen a lot of energy in both Delhi and Bangalore, I’ve met a lot of customers like Infosys and Paytm who are using GitHub. There was also great enthusiasm from developers to come to our event.

I think that’s part of the reason for this journey, which is, on the one hand, India’s rapidly growing developer community. We’re actually predicting that by 2027, India will have the largest developer community on Earth, judging by the number of GitHub accounts.

Today, America is number one and India is number two, but if you look at the growth rate in India, there are already more than 15 million developers. We can predict that it will overtake the US by 2027.

Looking at computer science graduates in India, you probably won’t miss this number one for long. Here is a great addition of developer power.

On the other hand, we have generative AI, which is on everybody’s mind, this year, we see it as the year of AI adoption and so you have both of those momentums coming together. I call it the great harmony.

You have a new technology that, at least for software developers, is the biggest step function since we started coding in the 1950s and 1960s when we moved from punch cards to compilers. At the same time you have an incredible workforce that is highly educated.

Can you give us an idea of ​​how big the GitHub community is in India today?

In the overall GitHub community, we have more than 100 million accounts and as of last month (May 2024), India stands at 15.4 million developers. Among the top communities, India is the fastest-growing country, growing faster than the US for various reasons, such as India’s sheer population and higher number of students in computer science and engineering skills.

Are these 15.4 million developers, are they students, or product managers working at startups or are they enterprise accounts?

We have a large student population, like in the US and Europe, who get free access to GitHub Copilot. These are 9, 10, 11-year-olds who are starting to learn to code because they have Python classes at school or they’re just interested.

So students are a big community here in India. Startups are also a big community. And then there is the commercial sector which consists of companies from various industries including the likes of Infosys, Paytm, Makemytrip, and Cognizant.

Read on: Indian developers rank second in creative AI project contributions on GitHub.

Can you talk to us about GitHub’s presence in India?

We are part of Microsoft which has more than 20,000 employees in India. Many of them are engineers in Hyderabad and also here in Bangalore. We are collaborating closely with the Microsoft research team in Bengaluru on the future of Copilot and the Copilot workspace.

Speaking of Microsoft, a few months ago when Satya Nadella was on a visit to India, he said he wanted to. Microsoft to ‘Copilot’ India’s AI Journey. What role do you see GitHub playing and how is GitHub’s adoption journey in India?

At GitHub, we ourselves are early adopters of Copilot. We started using Copilot about six months after OpenAI accessed GPT-3 in June 2020.

So we now have three years of experience using Copilot to build software. At the end of the day, we are very similar to many software companies here in India. We are building software. And we’re living through the same pain that they’re living through, the endless number of backlog items, the overwhelming demands, we’re asking all our developers to move faster and do more, while we’ve done all these things. The amount of work has also increased through regulation. , and compliance etc

Now we are bringing it to India. Partnership with Infosys, where we opened a Center of Excellence, where the idea is actually to have both GitHub and Infosys employees working together on-site at their campuses to help Infosys employees understand the cues using Copilot and use them to Skills can be taught to be internalized. Daily Story and their customer relationships.

Last year, GitHub had to Let alone its entire Indian engineering team.. How are you approaching the company’s operations in India now?

The layoffs were a very difficult decision we had to make given the economic environment of the past year and our priorities. But the majority of these engineers were rehired at Microsoft soon after.

Going forward, we rely on Microsoft as our partner in engineering, as we are part of the Copilot stack, we have engineers in Microsoft Research and Microsoft Engineering in India to drive our product development worldwide. Will continue to work together.

A common theme we hear from many techies is how verbal skills and English skills will trump math skills. How do you see it developing?

I think we’re going to see a democratization of access to technology. Now here in India, many people speak English fluently, better than most Europeans. But most children still learn their mother tongue first – Hindi or Bengaluru, in Kannada.

Many of these bids are already supported by (AI) models today. So the universal programming language is human language. It has a big advantage. This is the way we all learn to communicate from a young age.

So the interesting thing is that you will be able to learn coding using only the language that you are learning from your parents all over the world. But in addition, you will be able to express your ideas in human language, which is much more flexible than doing it in code. Then the model translates that into code – either behind the scenes or when you can still see the code and you understand the code.

India has a large number of computer science graduates, we also produce the largest number of engineers every year. What is the future of coding? Will AI replace coders or engineers?

I don’t see it as a developer space at all. It’s just a natural evolution that software developers have gone through over the past five decades.

Number two is that this AI wave is actually creating new work. The demand of companies around the world is now to create AI systems. So now all these companies also need AI experts and they are not looking for them on the street. They are finding them by improving their internal developers.

The folks at GitHub and Microsoft building the first copilots were called full-stack engineers. Now he’s an AI engineer and he’s building these copilots. So developers are expanding the stack and the complexity of the system is constantly increasing. Most companies, if not all companies, are writing more code every single day than they are deleting code.

So we’re sitting on an ever-growing stack of software that exists in our world, including thousands, if not tens, of thousands of open source libraries, which, by the way, is another trend where instead of building it ourselves, we have used open source within their stack, and that hasn’t replaced developers either, it’s just created more work, ultimately, and helped us move up the stack to build more complex systems. If you think about the challenge that we face in the world, there is still a lot of software to be built, to solve climate change, to solve cancer, to solve diabetes. All of these will be AI systems supported by software.

Every company needs software developers, and very soon, every company will need an AI engineer, an instant engineer with these skills. So I am very optimistic that we will still be in a place where being a software developer is a very attractive job category and I encourage everyone, including my children, to learn coding.

Read on: Momentum around developers, growth in India is incredible: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

Has the bar increased significantly?

The bar has been raised massively. Software developers building international systems or global companies have high demands because they use thousands, if not tens of thousands, of servers spread around the world but must comply with local regulations, local privacy protection, security It has to be done.

A new model is now almost weekly, and so my advice to kids and parents is to start early, consider programming with a copilot the same way you consider literacy, math, art, and science. And we want our children. To learn an instrument.

Learning motivational skills will be very important for children and even for professional pilots because those motivational skills are universally translatable between different copilots. If I know how to gesture, I can use it to write text in ChatGPT. I can use it to write an email in Outlook, or create a deck in PowerPoint. And I can use it to write an application in GitHub copilot.

Where is India in the global AI landscape? Are we missing out on basic modeling?

In a way, this AI post is only the second year of ChatGPT. A year ago, there wasn’t much in the way of large language models. In India, if you look now, there are actually many projects happening.

I think there is a similar opportunity for India as you see now with Mistral, for example, in Paris, or Stable Diffusion, which originally came out of collaboration between different startups and research across Europe. Is.

I don’t think we can say that the ship has already sailed. It’s early days. If we travel back to 1994, a year after Netscape came out, we might be predicting the journey that different companies and different countries have taken.

I think India is moving fast.

You are integrating Indian languages ​​like Hindi into GitHub Copilot. How has it helped the adoption of driving?

What’s really important to us is that you can start coding and exploring these topics without having to learn English first, or without using English because you may not feel as confident in English as you do in Hindi or In Japanese or Brazilian Portuguese. ?

Number two is also in a professional workforce, many companies, even when you move away from international companies, are still communicating in the local language and we see that being practiced in all parts of the world. Is. They don’t want their internal communication to be in English. They want to be in Hindi, or they want to be in Japanese because it is part of their company culture and software, in the past decades, such companies have been forced to switch to English or that hybrid world. Is. But it makes the task and process difficult.

Finally, the bottom line is that we have legacy code, technical debt as the developers call it, in the world. Many companies still run COBOL on mainframes. It is still used in many financial services, local and federal government tax authorities around the world. It is a language code invented in the 50s, written in the 60s and 70s.

This code relies on very different standards than what we call cloud-native today, so many of these companies are interested in changing and modernizing it. With Copilot, you’re enabling people to understand them.

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