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How Will AI Change Developers’ Jobs?

With the rise of AI, the future of software development feels more than a little unclear. 

Copilot is already similar to having a junior developer pair programming with you — and some industry leaders like Thomas Dohmke are predicting that AI will eventually write most of our code. I’m still extremely skeptical about that, but obviously, this brings up a ton of essential questions (and some concerns) for developers at all levels.

How will AI impact our workflow, our industry, and the security of our roles?

While a lot of this is still up in the air, a few things seem to be already trending in a particular direction. Stick around for some predictions for the future of our field.

We’ll all become editors

Based on how things are going now, software devs should expect a shift in how they’re spending their time and will need to get comfortable editing code.

Generative AI has the capacity to create code from very little material — an option that wasn’t available at all just a year ago. This means that we’ll spend less time working from scratch and more time reviewing, adapting, and sometimes rewriting AI-generated code.

It’s hard to say whether this is universally positive or negative. The truth is that some developers will like it, and others won’t. But as AI improves, it should increase what we’re able to produce and how quickly we can work. 

We’ll do less monotonous work

Tools like Copilot and ChatGPT are already eliminating mundane and repetitive tasks from our workflow, and they’ll only get better as we move forward.

This should be especially beneficial for senior devs. They can look at AI as an assistant or junior developer that will help them offload monotonous tasks and turn their attention to more challenging work.

Learning will be easier for junior developers

It’s probably safe to say that AI will have the greatest impact on junior developers, and a lot of this comes down to their ability to ask questions and find answers. 

While senior devs rely on experience and context to find what they’re looking for on Stack Overflow or Google, a junior dev might not know exactly what to ask or how to find the answers that will help them move forward.

But with tools like ChatGPT, junior devs can easily find answers to their burning coding questions — even if they ask them with less targeted prompts and in their own words. (And that really is the kicker.)

AI skills will be an asset (for now)

At one point, typing was a resume highlight. Later, it was the ability to use Google. Today, neither of those things are special talents. They’re basic life skills. The trend with AI will probably be similar. 

Devs who know how to make the most of these tools will be more hireable — for now. In fact, we’re already seeing this demand appear across several fields. That said, we should expect AI proficiency to be a minimum qualification in the not-too-distant future. 

Test Driven Development may be more popular

With the help of generative AI, Test Driven Development may become more popular.

AI is already capable of fast and effective test writing — a task that feels monotonous and time-consuming for highly trained developers. And based on what we’ve already seen, tools like ChatGPT could help us write the code we need to pass those tests faster. 

AI (probably) won’t eliminate roles

A lot of people (in a lot of fields) are concerned that AI will be a job killer. Some tech pros have even argued that tools like ChatGPT will eliminate the junior developer role.

But if we take a step back for a moment, we realize that in order to have senior devs, we need to have junior devs. So yes, AI could shrink team sizes — but everyone starts somewhere, and we’ll always need experienced developers to leverage AI tools.

And there’s a flip side here I think we all need to consider. AI could expand our capacity, grow our teams, or necessitate entirely new roles.

We’ll still need people

At the end of the day, AI is a tool for people. We should expect it to change our jobs (and we need to prepare for that), but we still need humans to make our industry work.

AI can be wrong. Just like humans. And just like Google. 

AI can’t innovate (yet). And fresh ideas come from real people.

We need humans to identify the problems AI might solve, apply critical thinking to what it spits out, and come up with the prompts that make these tools useful.


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