Enter “Will AI Replace Programmers?” Into Google and you will find a variety of articles with differing opinions on the question. The consensus seems to be that it will eventually happen. After all, according to most articles, much of what programmers or coders do is “tedious and redundant work” that could be done by an AI. Whether you believe this is going to happen tomorrow or 20 years from now, the fact that Google, IBM, Microsoft, Facebook and many others are actively working on developing AI that can code is evidence that coding is viewed by many in the business world as an over-priced commodity. Never the less, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for programmers is expected to continue to grow in the coming decade as software continues to “eat the world” and demand for programmers continues to outstrip supply. This is yet another reason why companies are focusing on developing AI that can code.
So if you are a programmer, what should you do? Well if you don’t plan on retiring in the next ten years you need to start thinking about the value you provide and how to avoid becoming a commodity that can be replaced by software. Of course, you could focus on writing the code that powers AI (the irony is so rich), but that is simply delaying the inevitable. You could learn to leverage AI to write better code. But again, that is also just delaying the inevitable. I believe that to stay relevant and valuable, coders need to learn to think like creatives and entrepreneurs. That’s not to say that many coders don’t already think like creatives and entrepreneurs, but those skills aren’t necessarily rewarded when you have the job title of programmer. As AI gets better and better at coding, programmers need to get better at leveraging software and AI to create solutions that enrich people’s lives and create a better future. This will require a mindset shift away from solving problems that are purely technical or code-related in nature toward solving problems that require a broader perspective. Many of the problems we are facing today and that the next generation will face in the coming decades will require out-of-the-box creative thinkers who also understand software and technology. For some programmers, this is going to be a stretch. After all, you became a programmer because you love to code. But I believe, like IDEO, that everyone has creative potential. I believe that as software and AI continues to “eat the world,” coders need to tap into their creative potential to learn how to leverage software and A.I. to change the world.
I would love to hear your views and opinions on AI and coding.