Will AI Kill Programming Jobs?

I’ve heard a lot of people claim lately that artificial intelligence – or AI – will make programming jobs obsolete in the future. In fact, the book The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why the Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World, which I wrote about last month, makes this claim several times in arguing that today’s programming jobs will no longer be needed in the future. Furthermore, researches from Oak Ridge National Laboratory wrote a paper in December 2017 that suggests that AI, machine learning, and natural language processing will fundamentally transform programming by 2040 to the point that most code will be written by machines.

Can this really be true? Can arguable the most in-demand job today become the coal mining job of tomorrow? To paraphrase Mark Twain, “Rumors of computer programming’s future death have been greatly exaggerated.”

Computer programming will certainly change thanks to improvements in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. There will come a day, very likely before 2040, when we will be able to express instructions in English, or at least an abbreviated form of English, and have the computer translate that into the ones and zeros it prefers. We won’t have to employ an arcane programming language to express the instructions, or at least we won’t have to do that as much. Essentially, we be able to talk more conversationally with the computer, and it will figure out what it needs to do from there.

Programmers already benefit from elements of that trend today. Most integrated development environments (IDEs) feature code-completion tools that suggest ways to finish the statement you just started to write. These code completion tools are fairly unsophisticated today, as they simply scan through lists of the most likely keywords to follow what you have already typed on just the current line. But it is easy to imagine expanding this capability to have the computer suggest the best way to complete the current line based on the context of the code that surrounds it, or even to write the entire next line or block based on the previous block of code. These improvements to code-completion will happen very soon. From there, given a few more years, it is very likely that “programmers” will be able to express what they want in a natural language, and the computer will automatically generate much of the code it needs on its own.

But programming is not about learning a programming language. Programming is a way of thinking. Anyone can learn a language well enough to understand what someone else is saying, provided that the presenter speaks slowly enough and doesn’t get carried away with her vocabulary. Rather, the ability to articulate ideas in that language – appropriately, convincingly, creatively – is what distinguishes fluency from competency. Likewise, there are programmers who excel at slinging code, provided you give them the algorithm, the step-by-step plan for solving the problem at hand. Good programmers, however, excel at devising the algorithm in the first place, and they do that so well that translating it into an algorithm becomes trivial, even, in a for years, for a computer.

As computer systems become more and more diverse, incorporating myriad devices that communicate over heterogeneous networks speaking diverse protocols and interacting with countless other systems and services, the challenge of orchestrating all of that concurrent activity is going to grow too complicated for us mere mortals to handle. And don’t even get me started on the challenge of testing such systems. Thankfully, AI will be there to help us. Tomorrow’s programmers will envision the story; AI will help us write the sentences and verify that they’re correct.

About Ray Klump

Professor and chair of Mathematics and Computer Science Director, Master of Science in Information Security Lewis University http://online.lewisu.edu/ms-information-security.asp, http://online.lewisu.edu/resource/engineering-technology/articles.asp, http://cs.lewisu.edu. You can find him on Google+.

3 thoughts on “Will AI Kill Programming Jobs?

  1. Leona Quiroz
    August 2, 2019 at 1:06 am

    Great Article! as we know AI is not about replacing people but it creates a partnership between digital capability and human ability and it can sift through data that reveals the most effective wording for communicating a solution to a customer. AI will not kill programming jobs, rather it can search for options and assist an agent in providing a solution more quickly. It is anticipated that the majority of customer service will be digitized by 2020 as AI learns more and more about customer preferences and habits it will further change customer service for the better. Organizations have adopted tools such as CSAT.AI, MaestroQA, ScorebuddyQA, and Salesforce Einstein to deliver better results by better implementation of AI.

  2. July 16, 2019 at 8:18 am

    Whether you call it coding or programming, both are the same. A computer programming language is not so easy that anyone can learn it by himself. All you need is a good mentor or teacher so that he can guide you on what to do or what not to do. For learning programming, you need to find out the Best Programming Institute in your city. If you are a good programmer the door of IT sector is always open for you, All you need is a good command on such programming languages which is the trending one like java, python, etc

  3. July 16, 2019 at 8:04 am

    Computer programming works on some ethics and algorithms which a programmer must know before start programming officially. In the learning stage, everyone does mistakes and it should be corrected by his mentor or tutor at the learning period. One should focus on the logics which are used in coding. To learn programming in Indore from the Best Programming Institute visit Universal Informatics.

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