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Re: [PATCH 2/2] docs: define policy forbidding use of "AI" / LLM code ge

From: Philippe Mathieu-Daudé
Subject: Re: [PATCH 2/2] docs: define policy forbidding use of "AI" / LLM code generators
Date: Thu, 23 Nov 2023 16:29:52 +0100
User-agent: Mozilla Thunderbird

On 23/11/23 15:56, Manos Pitsidianakis wrote:
On Thu, 23 Nov 2023 16:35, "Michael S. Tsirkin" <mst@redhat.com> wrote:
On Thu, Nov 23, 2023 at 11:40:26AM +0000, Daniel P. Berrangé wrote:
There has been an explosion of interest in so called "AI" (LLM)
code generators in the past year or so. Thus far though, this is
has not been matched by a broadly accepted legal interpretation
of the licensing implications for code generator outputs. While
the vendors may claim there is no problem and a free choice of
license is possible, they have an inherent conflict of interest
in promoting this interpretation. More broadly there is, as yet,
no broad consensus on the licensing implications of code generators
trained on inputs under a wide variety of licenses.

The DCO requires contributors to assert they have the right to
contribute under the designated project license. Given the lack
of consensus on the licensing of "AI" (LLM) code generator output,
it is not considered credible to assert compliance with the DCO
clause (b) or (c) where a patch includes such generated code.

This patch thus defines a policy that the QEMU project will not
accept contributions where use of "AI" (LLM) code generators is
either known, or suspected.

Signed-off-by: Daniel P. Berrangé <berrange@redhat.com>
 docs/devel/code-provenance.rst | 40 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
 1 file changed, 40 insertions(+)

+Use of "AI" (LLM) code generators
+  **Current QEMU project policy is to DECLINE any contributions
+  which are believed to include or derive from "AI" (LLM)
+  generated code.**
+The existence of "AI" (`Large Language Model <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large_language_model>`__
+/ LLM) code generators raises a number of difficult legal questions, a
+number of which impact on Open Source projects. As noted earlier, the
+QEMU community requires that contributors certify their patch submissions
+are made in accordance with the rules of the :ref:`dco` (DCO). When a
+patch contains "AI" generated code this raises difficulties with code
+provenence and thus DCO compliance.
+To satisfy the DCO, the patch contributor has to fully understand
+the origins and license of code they are contributing to QEMU. The
+license terms that should apply to the output of an "AI" code generator
+are ill-defined, given that both training data and operation of the
+"AI" are typically opaque to the user. Even where the training data
+is said to all be open source, it will likely be under a wide variety
+of license terms.
+While the vendor's of "AI" code generators may promote the idea that
+code output can be taken under a free choice of license, this is not
+yet considered to be a generally accepted, nor tested, legal opinion.
+With this in mind, the QEMU maintainers does not consider it is
+currently possible to comply with DCO terms (b) or (c) for most "AI"
+generated code.
+The QEMU maintainers thus require that contributors refrain from using
+"AI" code generators on patches intended to be submitted to the project,
+and will decline any contribution if use of "AI" is known or suspected.
+Examples of tools impacted by this policy includes both GitHub CoPilot,
+and ChatGPT, amongst many others which are less well known.

So you called out these two by name, fine, but given "AI" is in scare
quotes I don't really know what is or is not allowed and I don't know
how will contributors know.  Is the "AI" that one must not use
necessarily an LLM?  And how do you define LLM even? Wikipedia says
"general-purpose language understanding and generation".

All this seems vague to me.

However, can't we define a simpler more specific policy?
For example, isn't it true that *any* automatically generated code
can only be included if the scripts producing said code
are also included or otherwise available under GPLv2?

The following definition makes sense to me:

- Automated codegen tool must be idempotent.
- Automated codegen tool must not use statistical modelling.

I'd remove all AI or LLM references. These are non-specific, colloquial and in the case of `AI`, non-technical. This policy should apply the same to a Markov chain code generator.

This document targets all contributors. Contributions can be typo
fix, translations, ... and don't have to be technical. Similarly,
contributors aren't expected to be technical experts. As a neophyte,
"AI" makes sense. "Idempotent code generator" or "LLM" don't :)

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