GitHub Co-pilot Emergency!

Is AI going to eat away software dev jobs?

With every new breakthrough in a field, a lot of hype is generally created around it, how it is the next big thing, how it will break the barriers, and so on. One such field over the past few years has been AI and with the release of GitHub copilot or GPT-3, a language model that uses deep learning to produce human-like text, the very same conversations have started yet again. AI and automation are going to take over software development jobs. Is that really so?

Does GPT-3 write code?

Yes, it does, and no, it doesn't. GPT-3 can write basic level code. It can easily create a starter program or application but it cannot go beyond that. What Canva is to design, Webflow to websites, that's GPT-3 to code, or for that matter, text. It is another tool that you can play with, create level 1 applications with, but it can never do what we are doing.

A friend had told me some time ago that Canva, contrary to belief, preps the general folks to appreciate design. They get a first-hand idea of creatives by using Canva and then go to professionals to get better designs.

I have also talked about in detail how web development will not be affected by frameworks like Webflow in a previous issue - web dev for the win!.

Coming back to GPT-3, it is a good toy to play with but it is not yet ready to take over the jobs of good web developers.

Why do I think GPT-3 will fail?

Let's understand on a very explicit level how this new big thing actually works. It takes in a lot of data, say, a lot of code, amalgamates it, changes a few things here and there, and comes up with a program. That is not really the right way to approach code. And even if you have built an application, GPT-3 cannot tell you what the next feature should be. It needs proper instructions to work, and who will give those instructions if not a human.

You need to understand that GPT-3 is the constant, you are the randomness. Any job that requires creativity, any job that requires uniqueness, will not be taken over by automation.

So I should relax, right?

If you are a basic developer whose job does not require creativity, you will be replaced by an AI very soon. Look at what happened to BPO and call centers. All these customer support roles have been easily taken over by automated machines. It is the developers at the intermediate level who will have to redefine themselves and work with a larger set of tools now. But someone who is a specialist, who is an expert in his field, need not worry any time soon.

Did that clear the air?

I hope I have somewhat helped you understand the situation around GPT-3 and put to rest your worries of losing a job. I had a detailed conversation over the same subject with Varun Mayya that you can find here. If you know someone who still has this concern, share this issue with them. Till next time!