Artificial Intelligence: A Threat or an Opportunity?
Since the 19th century, the notion of artificial intelligence has been a popular feature of both science fiction and intellectual debate. Fast forward to the present day and artificial intelligence looks set to be one of the most disruptive and pervasive technologies of the 21st century. From autonomous vehicles to health care, aerospace engineering to material science, AI has the potential to profoundly affect how we interact with the world and those around us.
The Oxford dictionary defines artificial intelligence as: “The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.” Given the implications of developing computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, it's not surprising that many look at AI as a threat. Undeniably, some jobs will be under threat, and some will be totally replaced. Market reports state that by 2018 more than 60% of enterprises worldwide will use AI-driven technology to automate semi-sophisticated redundant tasks. However, this doesn't mean that computers are going to rise up and steal all of our jobs. In this post, we're going to take a closer look at how AI might affect software developers.
How will AI change software development?
According to Jim McHugh, vice president and general manager for NVIDIA’s DGX-1 supercomputer, the paradigm of software development is changing. The whole software development lifecycle looks set to be transformed. Whilst creativity amongst developers will always be key, AI will be able to make data informed decisions on what consumers and businesses want and need.
From conception to development, it's likely that the 'build phase' could see some of the most radical changes in software development. Overtime it's likely that we will see the whole industry shift from rules-based programming to building self-learning capabilities into applications. Diego Lo Giudice, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, discussed this in greater detail in his report 'How AI Will Change Software Development And Applications'. He asserts that “AI can improve the way we build current software —improving the process (for example, further increasing automation, leveraging analytics to improve quality, etc.). Then it will change the way we think about applications — not programming step by step, but letting the system learn to do what it needs to do.” In his report he even mentions the possibility of a natural language processing interface. In the future, developers may be able to simply type an idea into an AI system, which would then translate that idea into executable code. It's a brave new world, but it's an exciting one that should be welcomed.
In our view, it's unlikely that AI will be the demise of software developers. However, the skill-set for developers will undoubtedly change, and it is this change that developers will need to be prepared for. Diego Lo Giudice says “Developers will focus less on using coded rules to program applications to be smart, and instead program algorithms or configure them to self-learn. Devs will integrate algorithms, compose, and source large data sets to train and test such apps.”
Jim McHugh adds to this with his assertions that “developers will curate the data, and take software through the process of learning by itself, writing Python scripts, perhaps, to interact with software.” Going forward, developers will need be comfortable with data science, and will have to master machine learning and deep learning to enable them to build applications that learn on their own. In essence, AI shall only be a threat if software developers don't move with times.
Our recruiters are seeing a growing demand for software developers with AI and data science skills. If you'd like a job related to software development and AI, get in touch as we work with some of the UK's best AI companies.