Is Artificial Intelligence a threat to Software Engineers?

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The fear of the singularity

Every threat is an opportunity

The Forbes magazine article¬† Software Ate The World, Now AI Is Eating Software reminded me of the movie Ex_Machina where apparently the robot supersedes the fabled Turing Test, eventually backstabbing the one who created her and the one who saved her. This is a precursor to Ray Kurzweil’s singularity, which by the way is due in 2045. Although this sounds eerie, Kurzweil himself dismisses any reason to fear the approaching singularity. However, many experts, including Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, have considered this ‘approaching’ as ‘encroaching’ on human authority. The aforementioned Forbes magazine article predicts the same impending threat to the breed of Software Engineers. However, how valid is this claim? Let us walk through a few instances where AI could apparently disrupt Software Engineering.

TabNine code-complete

Arguably, many people love software development but hate coding. It would be great if a piece of software could read your mind and translate your thoughts into code. I admit that expecting software to read your mind is being an extremist, but we have TabNine which has analysed millions of GitHub repositories to develop their software that helps us with effective autocomplete. This video should be able to drop some jaws!

However, as technology advances, software like TabNine could potentially learn to autocomplete entire modules of code with little human intervention.

Sketch2Code

The family of Software engineers consists of UI/UX developers. These gentlemen(women) need some creative juices along with logic. However, imagine a world where all you need to do is visualize a layout for your website (of course put it on paper) while the software translates it into an HTML code! That’s not a fancy expectation anymore. We have Microsoft Sketch2Code to help you out. Imagine that you have a rough paper outlining your UI.

The Sketch2Code analyses the sketch and gives the following outcome along with the HTML code.

I admit it is not perfect. However, with improvements in Computer Vision, we will have better performance.

Text to SQL code generation

AI and data analysis are intertwined. However, this does not mean that Data Analysis will be immune to the advances of AI. We have tools which generate SQL queries based on a text query or inputs. For more details, read this paper.

Furthermore, a typical data analyst job entails creating visual reports and dashboards. However, tools like Power BI offer quick insights using the uploaded data. Follow this documentation to know more about Power BI quick insights.

Is Artificial Intelligence a threat for Software Engineers?

The answer is both yes and no. Yes for those who like stagnating bureaucratic jobs. However, the one who is constantly evolving need not fear. If software like Tabnine evolves into a full-fledged coder, it will help developers experiment with design, thus making more complicated applications possible. People with complex problem-solving skills will thrive.

As text to SQL matures, Data Analysts would be able to analyse data more effectively and more critically than they are able to do now. Similarly, services like automatic insights in PowerBI will give them first-hand knowledge about their data so that they can dive deeper. Hence, critical and analytical thinking will gain prominence over SQL skills/reporting skills.

Lastly, services like sktech2CodeAI will save scripting time, enabling UI/UX developers to be more creative, enhancing the human experience. After all, homo sapiens are visual beings.

You would be surprised that the skills that we have highlighted in the last three paragraphs have been identified as the top three skills in the years starting from 2020. The World Economic Forum infographic reinforces the same.

In conclusion, before pondering upon the question that ‘Is Artificial Intelligence a threat?’ we need to introspect that are we in sync with the changing world?

 




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