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Programming automation: Will developers be replaced by robots?
A hot topic. A victim to the „I’m no expert but here’s my opinion” syndrome. Undiscovered opportunities. A horror that is becoming a reality. Siri. Samantha. Skynet.
There are many reasons why bots have become a hot topic in the last few months.
We are talking not only about the potential hidden in automation, an opportunity to free ourselves from menial activities, but also about moral aspects of the ‘raise of robots’. About their influence on politics, society, arts, our everyday life. We have a vast experience in being afraid of what we do not know. When an average Joe hears the word ‘robots’, he imagines a T-800 with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s face.
- ASI development is still a far fetched vision and goes hand in hand with research on the human brain.
- New technologies change the labor market by not only replacing humans, but creating new job openings as well.
- Bots should not be perceived as a threat, but rather as a natural evolution of developers’ workflow.
Should we be afraid?
A strong AI, called an Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI) still remains in the realm of imagination. Even optimists forecast that its creation will take place many decades from now. The ASI development is closely related to the research on the human brain, especially on the mirror neurons which take part in the processes of creating, reproducing, learning and remembering behavioral patterns. Deep learning and the neural nets are concepts comprehensible for a limited group of people.
The study of human brain and ASI research are connected: understanding and use of scientific achievements in the field of neuroprocesses may lead to a breakthrough in the comprehension of the AI development path, but the research is consistent in its conclusion that at present we do not posses technology that could help us understand the wonderful tool that is our own brain (”Artificial Intelligence and brain”, Paul Shapshak via pubmed).
Bots, being a part of everyday life for more and more people (yes, if you have a Facebook account you have come into contact with bots already!), are what we call a “weak” artificial intelligence, capable of recreating logical processes. It may be, in human standards, remarkable when it comes to tasks based on logic, but also limited – not able to perceive tasks in categories of a broader picture.
And what if the most boring and arduous tasks happened on their own? What if we worked in a different way? Who never dreamt about an extra pair of helping hands?
This is what using code bots brings into developers’ work.
While considering the impact that bots have on real humans’ careers one should consider two aspects:
Firstly, using code bots ensures a change in the mode of operation, basing it on models and freeing developers from repetitive and not very creative tasks. It allows for optimization of the work processes, and in that context using bots is a supplementation of agile work methodologies.
Secondly, it allows for a change in the task realization dynamics. The initial enthusiasm, creative ideas and the energy that accompany a new project are with time consumed by arduous and tedious technicalities. The code becomes more and more extensive, and introducing changes becomes more and more time-consuming and… boring. And all of us want to feel satisfaction from our work.
Using bots lets us keep the momentum and gives us room for conceptual work, the thing that allows for a quicker growth of projects and more spectacular effects.
Do you already know what, or rather who is the common denominator of both those aspects?
Just as chatbots are not able to substitute interaction with a real human being (although we fantasize about, like in the movie HER), the code bots will never replace developers.
It’s more worthwhile to perceive bots just like codebots.com suggests, as Robin – a sidekick used by Batman (developer) for menial tasks rather than a real threat.
To use the metaphorical language: the bot and the code written by it are four walls with a roof, and maybe a floor – one can enter at any given time and hide oneself from the rain. And just like a building, without an architect, it’s just a lump with no specific purpose. In order to make it our own and make sure that it will fulfil all its tasks, we need an efficient architect. A visionary.
One should treat technology with a proper amount of caution, since the humanity may have only one chance to take control over (still) distant ASI, but does it mean we should abandon it? The first wheel-cart could have gone down the hill on its own as well. And although the potential repercussions of both events are incomparable, they still have a common denominator – a civilization striving for optimization.
(R)evolution and ripples on the water
“Technology lies behind global development and alters how people live. It affects every job, every human activity. It makes services, health care, and information available in ways that were unimaginable just a few decades ago. Along the way, it upsets social norms, disrupts industries, and dislocates workers. Advancing AI can seem scary, but it also poses great opportunity. Every business will have to think about what it means for them. What will the next couple of decades bring?” (“The Disruptors Feast”, Frits van Paasschen)
It’s no wonder that being aware of the great potential of the bots, we as the humanity tend to look over our shoulders with anxiety. After all, half of the western culture teaches us not to trust AI. The unknown always means uncertainty and there’s nothing odd about it.
Dynamic changes in the automation of certain industries cannot go unnoticed. What’s next?
How will the world change in the next decade? After all, no sane person will say that there will be no change at all.
Agility, the main goal of a modern business, effects all sectors of human activity. Large-scale optimization and automation mean an increase in productivity, but also difficult to predict new opportunities – new industries and new workplaces.
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