Will AI take over our development jobs?

- written by Treff LaPlante, CEO of CitizenDeveloper

I’ve been building and selling a full stack no code development platform for 23 years now. So you can imagine that I’ve heard every combination of “will that take away my development job” imaginable. To be clear, I am going into enterprises talking to them about a development tool that doesn’t require writing code in order to produce sophisticated enterprise grade custom software applications. So, not writing code must equal developers losing their jobs, correct?

I’ve heard this mantra every year for over two decades, but yet somehow, it’s never true. Why? Put simply, and I can’t explain this clearly enough, a developer deals with massive complexities of logic and data that to date, no tool can eliminate. Can it eliminate the code writing part? Sure it can. But can it eliminate the person behind it to properly think through and articulate the logic or the specific data access? Definitely not.

AI & No-Code: Evolution or Revolution?
AI & No-Code: Evolution or Revolution? (image by ideogram.ai)

I’m going to give you an example down below where AI assistance was very helpful, but where a developer was still required. I’m doing this because it’s important for developers to realize that despite claims from various pundits and marketers over the years, no tool has actually eliminated the need for developers. These claims have consistently proven to be unfounded. Here is a great example of exactly this debate: https://www.businessinsider.com/chatgpt-jobs-at-risk-replacement-artificial-intelligence-ai-labor-trends-2023-02 . But Will Capelli, a former Gartner analyst, provides a much more insightful perspective on how this actually works: https://techbeacon.com/enterprise-it/will-ai-take-your-it-operations-job.

Even with a no code full stack tool, an enterprise still needs very bright people who can process large amounts of logic, track down things that aren’t working as expected, remediate security concerns, add in compliance needs, and much more. AI tools in their current state are no different.

Will AI tools make the developers job of writing code easier? Yes they will. Will AI tools do all of your thinking for you? Not as of yet. If you are working in a large code base on an application that does many different things, you will still have a job for a long time to come.

Here is the case study I mentioned earlier:

Case Study: Will AI put developers out of a job?

  • Problem:

    The developer needed a string meeting the following criteria: A max of 60 characters, starting with a-z or A-Z, and containing letters a-z, A-Z, numbers and _ characters.

  • Can AI Assist?

    The developer decided to try out ChatGPT for the regular expression needed to check a Technical Name against these requirements.

    The prompt was: “Write me a regular expression that checks a string starting with a-z or A-Z, and containing letters a-z, A-Z, numbers and _ characters”

  • Result:

    It wrote the regular expression perfectly: ^[a-zA-Z][a-zA-Z0-9_]*$

  • Extra Credit:

    Then the developer responded “Using Javascript, write a function to validate an input string with that regular expression” . It output the function perfectly!

  • Are developers required?

    The developer had to know a regular expression was what was needed. The developer also had to handle acquiring that input string, had to consider how to handle a failed match to that expression, and so on. But, the regular expression [ which many coders struggle with ] was written flawlessly:

So, my advice for developers concerned about AI is the same as my advice to developers concerned about full stack no code…embrace it. These tools make you stronger. The only way you will lose your job over this is if you fall behind in your ability to embrace these new technologies!

Think of the life as an AI-assisted developer as just the life of a happier, more productive developer! The short version is that you can code the things you want to code, and ask the AI to give you code for things you don’t want to code yourself – like regular expressions! For now while the AI developers, keep your requests focused on specific tasks, e.g. “Give me a piece of <insert language> code that will <perform some specific function>.”

Don’t listen to all the media doom and gloom, and remember that a lot of media is actually getting it right. Here is the Washington Posts take on it; https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/interactive/2023/ai-jobs-workplace/. In the meanwhile, be sure to learn about and even embrace these technologies, they will make you a better more employable developer.

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