- People worry about their jobs, as ChatGPT and AI slowly become powerful enough to replace workers.
- But one group of workers sees ChatGPT as good for their industry: Programmers.
- Programmers said AI makes their work faster and opens up new job opportunities.
The threat of automation is the bogeyman in the dark for many workers. Now that people have seen what ChatGPT can do, the fear they will lose their jobs to AI has sparked anew for many employees.
The AI can write children’s books, take over some banking roles, or make it more likely that another human can replace you at work. In fact, it’s increasingly obvious that if people want to remain employable, they must be familiar with AI.
Well, not everybody feels that way.
At least one group of tech workers is excited about ChatGPT and AI-powered apps like it for what — and, perhaps who — it can bring to their profession.
Programmers are excited because advancements in automation make them far more efficient, allowing them to write more and better code. More exciting still, industry insiders say, tools like ChatGPT and GitHub Copilot stand to remove much of the pain of learning how to code in the first place, allowing more people to break into a lucrative career in coding. That would also have the added benefit of addressing the tech industry’s perpetual talent crunch.
“Developers, DevOps engineers, platform engineers, they’re looking to automate as many of the mundane tasks as they can and to free them up to have that higher level of thinking,” said Adam Frank, senior vice president of product for software deployment startup Armory. “AI can help automate many of those mundane tasks.”
AI levels the playing field for programmers
Professional programmers, at all levels of experience, rarely code in a vacuum: Websites like Stack Overflow connect programmers with each other to help solve problems; an industry in-joke is that a big part of learning to code is just mastering copy-and-paste.
The rise of ChatGPT is just an extension of that dynamic, giving a robot that can help generate exactly the code you need right on the spot (sometimes for more malicious uses).
For novice coders, that itself removes one of the major barriers to entry, helping them keep pace with more experienced coders by helping them on their way with answers to their specific problems.
There are still places for human programmers to shine, says Armory’s Frank. AI gives a coder all the pieces they might need, but it falls on the programmer to put it all together in a way that makes sense.
“There’s a level of creativity, and a level of emotion that humans have that AI is still a very, very long way from ever experiencing,” Frank said. “That level of creativity, emotion, and human understanding is what allows us as humans to build specific experiences for the humans that are using our products.”
This, in turn, is an exciting opportunity for those more seasoned developers, Frank says. By automating the tedium, it gives them the opportunity to be more creative and truly setting themselves apart from the competition.
New jobs await
Computer engineers and software developers were already a hot commodity even before ChatGPT was a glimmer in OpenAI’s eyes. But with the recent massive layoffs in tech, there’s an idea that being a programmer might not be all that it’s cracked up to be.
People began to think that with ChatGPT being able to spit out code, that’s the end of the human programmer. That’s not so, the experts say. But changes to the tech industry are on their way.
“AI makes technology significantly more accessible to businesses who are traditionally not tech-savvy and as adoption goes up, you start to need more developers who can implement and understand those systems to maintain the technology,” said Sagar Patel, vice president of engineering for Ampla.
At the same time, the job of a developer might change over the medium- to long term. ChatGPT and its ilk are only getting smarter and better at writing code by the day, meaning that there may be fewer need for engineers who do that nitty-gritty work. At the same time, there will be a call for professionals who can monitor, maintain, and assemble that code into functional products, meaning that the skills involved will remain valuable for a long time to come.
Programmers, of course, helped kickstart the current AI wave. So, if people are worried programmers wrote themselves out of a job, they’re wrong. Instead, programmers just ensured that their skills are more in demand than ever.