Automation is everywhere
Look around you
We live in an age where many aspects of human endeavour are being automated, thanks to the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). There are two major trends at work here: one is the delegating of repetitive or mundane tasks to computers and robots, thereby freeing up human bandwidth to focus on more stimulating and creative tasks – for example, the aspects of coding that really add value.
The second trend is the increasing ability of computers to think like people. If coding is the act of ‘talking’ to computers, the more computers are able to converse amongst themselves, the more automated coding can become.
However, while computers can beat humans at chess and have a capacity for calculations that far exceeds that of the human brain, they lack the creativity to perform certain tasks (like writing blogs, or carrying out more innovative coding).Given the advances in automation, to what extent will coding become automated – and would this be a positive development?
Why you should go for automated coding
Automation offers cost and time savings; computers don’t need to take breaks and they can process data at very high speeds. This makes them ideal for running tests on multiple iterations of basic coding.
Of course, automation is not a new phenomenon in the coding space. A large number of basic functions are already being outsourced to computers, with minimal human supervision. The question is where exactly the boundaries are at present, and how far automation is able to shift them.
Part of the answer will come down to our understanding of what exactly counts as ‘coding’ and how this is evolving.
Why you might want to reconsider
Coding is both a creative and an analytical task: programmers need to be able to envision a problem and its solution, and think laterally around both. For example, what might be the consequences of a particular solution? Could it be misused, and if so, by whom and to what ends? How could such misuse be prevented?
Also, computers take a more linear approach to problem-solving. They would not necessarily be able to consider how an App might be experienced by a visually impaired person, or in a different language.
Human beings are still essential
Software serves people
Ultimately, coding is about getting computers to do things that make human life easier. One way in which they could do this would be to shoulder some of the more tedious aspects of coding – and, as mentioned, this is already happening.
However, it is unlikely that there the role of the coder will disappear any time soon. AI needs to ‘learn’ in order for coding to be automated – we could therefore arrive at a situation where coding involves giving instructions to AI-enabled machines which then generate code, rather than coding directly.
Humans will retain control of the strategic aspects of coding, such as the outcomes required from software, and how it should be built. This will continue even as computers get to grips with the nuts and bolts.
If you’re a coder, or looking to get into coding, there’s no reason to fear for your job security. Coding – like all jobs – will continue to adapt and evolve, and automation will play a major role in this. As a skilled profession, coding is at less risk from automation than more menial tasks – as long as we retain our creativity as coders, we can see automation as a benefit rather than a threat.