NetBSD Updates Guidelines to Prohibit AI-Generated Code

NetBSD, the popular UNIX operating system, has updated its commit guidelines to ban the use of code generated by AI....
NetBSD Updates Guidelines to Prohibit AI-Generated Code
Written by Matt Milano
  • NetBSD, the popular UNIX operating system, has updated its commit guidelines to ban the use of code generated by AI.

    NetBSD is one of the most popular open-source UNIX operating systems—along with FreeBSD and OpenBSD—with a focus on portability, security, and solid design. The project has clarified its guidelines for contributors to commit code, ruling out AI-generated code, which it refers to as “tainted code”:

    Do not commit tainted code to the repository.

    If you commit code that was not written by yourself, double check that the license on that code permits import into the NetBSD source repository, and permits free distribution. Check with the author(s) of the code, make sure that they were the sole author of the code and verify with them that they did not copy any other code.

    Code generated by a large language model or similar technology, such as GitHub/Microsoft’s Copilot, OpenAI’s ChatGPT, or Facebook/Meta’s Code Llama, is presumed to be tainted code, and must not be committed without prior written approval by core.

    The NetBSD project’s stance on AI-generated code is yet another example of the distrust many open-source projects have toward AI. Gentoo Linux similarly banned AI-generated code in a recent policy update:

    It is expressly forbidden to contribute to Gentoo any content that has been created with the assistance of Natural Language Processing artificial intelligence tools. This motion can be revisited, should a case been made over such a tool that does not pose copyright, ethical and quality concerns.

    In fact, Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux are the only major distros to fully embrace AI, as of the time of writing.

    Fedora Project Lead Matthew Miller outlined Fedora’s goal in April 2024:

    The Guiding Star for Strategy 2028 is about growing our contributor base. We can make Fedora Linux the best community platform for AI, and in doing so, open a new frontier of contribution and community potential.

    Similarly, Red Hat announced its intention to be the go-to option for open-source developers looking to developer A solutions

    The main objective of RHEL AI and the InstructLab project is to empower domain experts to contribute directly to Large Language Models with knowledge and skills. This allows domain experts to more efficiently build AI-infused applications (such as chatbots).

    AI is clearly here to stay, but open-source project remain wary of the tech. NetBSD is merely the latest example of the challenges that remain for AI adoption.

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