IN BRIEF AI probably won’t replace software engineers, but will dramatically change the way they work in the future especially if they can instruct machines using natural language to generate code.
Several organizations – from OpenAI and Microsoft to Amazon and research labs like DeepMind – have trained neural networks to learn how to code. A recent survey of more than 2,000 developers by GitHub found that the vast majority of respondents found GitHub’s Copilot helped increase their productivity since the AI tool can act like a super-autocomplete, helping devs write boilerplate code for programs more quickly.
But will programmers’ jobs be taken by machines in the future? “I don’t believe AI is anywhere near replacing human developers,” Vasi Philomin, Amazon’s vice president for AI services, told IEEE Spectrum.
It’s possible developers may not need to learn the syntax and vocabulary of programming languages, and instead will need to focus on understanding concepts and systems to design programs while the AI can do all the boring, nitty-gritty coding work, he opined. In other words, you describe how an application works and a machine-learning model outputs the corresponding code to compile or run.
Peter Schrammel, cofounder of Diffblue, a company focused on automating Java code, agreed that programming jobs will change and engineers will be able to focus more on difficult, creative problems.
“Software developers will not lose their jobs because an automation tool replaces them,” he said. “There always will be more software that needs to be written.”