Summary: When programming is gone, will we like what's left? by Forrest Brazeal
The demand for people called “software engineers” will increase. The question is what those people will do.
Original article: substack by Forrest Brazeal (published Jan 2023)
Motivation: the post discusses the impact of AI on creative jobs, as well as contradicting perceptions about AI by software engineers.
DALL-E, ChatGPT, and GitHub Copilot are examples of AI tools that have significantly affected artists, writers, and programmers. However, the author noticed a contradiction: while software developers often dismiss the threat of AI to artists and writers (perception: those jobs are not as important as WE are), they seem to believe their own special jobs are immune to AI-driven changes. Commonly used arguments are: “Would YOU trust the design of a life-support system to an LLM?“.
Two HackerNews discussions are mentioned (first & second) to illustrate this point:
The first one was about AI's threat to human creatives, where most comments were dismissive or downplayed the issue.
The second one was about the post "The End of Programming", which sparked outrage and disagreement among developers. The article claims that classical computer science will become obsolete because AI models will take over software generation.
Why AI is winning
The author proposes that SOME software engineering jobs will likely require human developers for the foreseeable future, while MANY others will increasingly rely on AI-generated code. This shift may change the role of software engineers, turning them into something akin to educators (feeding examples to AI models) or product managers (translating business requirements for an AI dev team).
“Of course [AI-generated code] is worse than your handcrafted code. How could it not be? But it’s cheap. And it’s fast. So it’s winning.”
Will programmers be happy if AI allows them to work faster and focus on tasks other than programming? The article describes the passion and satisfaction many developers find in the act of programming itself and wonders how they will feel when AI-driven tools begin to dominate that aspect of their jobs.
The growing influence of AI will turn many people into "shape rotators" in the title but "wordcels" in function and salary. This means engineering (shape rotator) titles/jobs remain, but your work may involve giving prompts (wordcel) to AI dev bots more than coding.
Core message & CTA
“You might still program by hand, just for the sake of personal enjoyment. But is that really enough? Will that give you the joy and pride you felt when you knew that doing what you loved most really mattered in the world? Well, now you know how the artists feel.“
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