All Things Open trip report

I attended All Things Open 2023 this year, and would recommend it to anyone who touches open source software and wants to know more. It's held in Raleigh NC, near my workplace at Kitware in Carrboro, NC, so I can drive over each morning and park for $10, making it easy to attend.

I wanted to share what stood out for me:

Github Copilot

I hadn't seen a good demo of what Copilot could do, and I was impressed. I still haven't tried it myself, but I will in the near future. There was this interesting cycle of development that you could do - 

  • Start writing a function, and have it suggestion completions
  • Write a comment that explains the function, and have it write the function for you
  • If it doesn't seem right, have it generate multiple versions of that function
  • Ask it to evaluate the function it just generated for correctness and possible bugs
  • Ask it to explain the function line-by-line
Besides that, it can also comment code, or write unit tests for code. Those seem super-useful, since they are the things that are most often left out in any deadline crunch.

Inclusion and diversity

Inclusiveness is always a strong theme at ATO, and one I really appreciate. I always feel sheltered and some privilege guilt being a white male in tech, after listening to amazing passionate keynotes like the one from Fatima Sarah Khalid from GitLab. Go watch it. I have a tonne to learn about being an advocate.

AI and IP

Chris Hazard's talk was a standout, and pointed me at all-the-music, which is bizarre - every melody that is possible has been generated? But when they point out that it's pop music, and those melodies are usually just in a single octave, and they are rarely longer than 12 or 15 notes, well, that seems totally reasonable. Then the idea that one song is infringing copyright of another song just because the melody is the same becomes ridiculous. Now extend it to text, and AI generated text and code and images, which are remixing pieces of publicly available data into new things, but are they new? Great questions without good answers so far.

Lots more

The conference was huge, over two days, and there are bunches of talks to go watch on youtube. Get a flavor, and come next year. Oh, and early-bird registration was only $99, so you can afford it!


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