NewsJun 14, 2024

AI Won’t Replace Programmers

Viewed 3 min read

A year ago, I argued that AI wouldn’t replace programmers. Guess what? I was right. AI is a tool, not a threat.
No programmers have been replaced by AI at my company, Ministry of Programming, or in the companies we work with. AI continues to be used as a helpful assistant by hundreds of developers.
Conflating GAI with AGI

Many people think generative AI will replace programmers because they confuse it with AGI (artificial general intelligence). The reality is, that today’s generative AI is like the most advanced autocomplete ever — a powerful assistant, not a conscious replacement for human programmers.

Autocomplete on Steroids ≠ a Thinking Coder

To truly replace programmers, we need AGI or even ASI (artificial superintelligence). Current tools, while impressive, still require human oversight and understanding to produce usable code.

Impact of AI on software engineers: AI as a tool

Even people who point out AI’s problems agree that it can be very helpful for engineering teams. AI makes work easier by organizing tasks, speeding up design, handling repetitive jobs, and even writing code. This helps teams work faster and better.

Some teams are already using AI to create basic code blocks, which they then improve. AI is also good at making documentation and analyzing data with less effort. GitHub CoPilot, for example, suggests code to developers in real-time, which is helpful for repetitive tasks. Other AI tools help with debugging by quickly finding common mistakes, allowing engineers to focus on more complex parts of the code.

Will Generative AI Replace Software Engineers?

AI won’t replace programmers. But AI is already helping developers to write code. AI-powered coding assistants like ChatGPT, Github, CoPilot, and OpenAI Codex are accessible tools that help embedded developers write better code faster. AI code generators can now quickly generate high-quality code snippets, identify issues and defects, and suggest improvements to code snippets.

Of course, it will take time before AI will be able to create actual, production-worthy code that spans more than a few lines.

Here’s how AI will impact software development in the near future.

AI Will Improve

It will become effective at automating tasks and helping developers understand their options. And it will then let the human decide how to optimize for circumstances beyond AI’s understanding.

AI Will Become a Coding Partner

Software developers will use AI as a coding pair to write better software. This is already happening today and will continue to rise in popularity as AI learns to write more than a few lines of code at a time. Developers will include AI pair programmer tools within their IDEs. Similar to human paired programming, the AI tool will perform coding tasks based on prompts, and then the developer will review the code. In the past, this process was more labor intensive, but AI tools can perform certain parts of their SDLC faster than a human developer, freeing the developer to focus on more complex tasks.

How Has AI Changed Software Engineering Hiring?

AI is changing how we hire and use programmers. Traditional hiring methods like coding tests aren’t effective anymore because AI tools can pass these tests. Instead, it’s better to interview candidates directly with an engineer to see their real skills. AI is good at handling common tasks and might soon take over more complex coding. This means lower-level programmers will need to learn how to use AI tools and focus on checking and fixing the AI’s work.

The need for skilled programmers, called solution architects, will grow. These are the experts who understand what clients need and how to use the right technology to meet those needs. They already have high salaries and are valued for their problem-solving skills. As AI tools get better, these top-level programmers will become even more important in the industry.

The evolving role of Software Engineers

As AI becomes more prevalent, the role of a software engineer in an engineering organization will necessarily change. For example, developers will have more time to work on challenging and impactful projects in a more efficient environment.

AI can handle repetitive tasks, allowing junior engineers to focus more on learning complex coding techniques and understanding the nuances of software development processes.”

So, will AI replace Programmers and Software Engineers?

AI won’t replace programmers and software engineers, but it will change how they work. AI can handle repetitive tasks, suggest code, and help with debugging, making programmers’ jobs easier and more efficient. This means that programmers can focus more on complex problem-solving and creative aspects of their work.

Instead of writing all the code from scratch, programmers will increasingly use AI tools to assist them. They will need to learn how to effectively use these tools, prompt them correctly, and review and improve the AI-generated code. In this way, AI will be a valuable tool that enhances the work of programmers rather than replacing them


tags: AI in EngineeringAI Tools for ProgrammersFuture of ProgrammingProgramming with AISoftware Development Trends


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