Can AI really replace software developers?

Recently Engineer.ai, a startup which helps companies to build software using AI raised a funding of $29.5M. These days there’s lot of talk about AI writing code and replacing jobs, even Sundar pichai talked about this. If you are software developer like me who earns his bread and butter writing code, it is only natural to freak out. Before you google alternative careers for software developers, pause and take a deep breath.

Lets first deconstruct how software developers write code. When writing code they usually break a big problem into smaller chunks and then solve each chunk by writing code. This is not a new pattern, developers are following this from time immemorial.

If writing code is just about repeating the same, Then AI will only make your life easier. With advances in AI, neural network can learn which instructions or rules are needed for a desired outcome. Similarly developers can also learn to use AI to write their code. Not only they can use AI to do their work in half the time. Now they will get to work on more interesting problems.

Software development was always about solving problems and writing code is only a small part of the solution. If software developers after 10 years think they’ll be solving the same problems that are working on today, they should really think hard about their career choices.

In reality developers are no different from AI, they learn software development the same way an AI does. Except that AI is built at core to adapt and improve and so should software developers. To put bluntly software developers can adapt or die and but has always been true for software developers, not just now.

A large portion of developers today never get to write complex programs because they are busy fixing bugs from typos or writing tests so they don’t make typos. This can become a thing of the past. Imagine in future your personal AI doing pair programming with you in real time and writing test for you as you type. Most IDE editors can fix your errors already, and this already saved me so much time I can’t begin to describe.

Personally I don’t see AI replacing software developers anytime soon except in sci-fi films may be. But it sure is going to help them do their job better and efficient. It only makes me more excited about AI can change the way I work everyday.