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Many studies and tools focus on increasing the productivity of developers. However, creativity is also an important factor for success.

Researchers from universities in the U.S., Denmark, the Netherlands, Canada, and Brazil have created a research agenda to study how generative AI could affect creativity in software development. This includes how it impacts product quality and developer motivation.

Many programmers are already using generative AI for coding, through tools like Github Copilot. It helps generate ideas, provides inspiration from other fields, and can even suggest features and designs on its own. This could free up developers' time for more creative tasks.

Some potential positive effects of GenAI on coding creativity. GenAI could benefit introverted people, for example. | Image: Jackson et al.

But there are risks to using AI. Developers may rely too much on the suggestions and stop questioning their own ideas. Specialized skills and knowledge could also decline as AI takes over more and more tasks. Eventually, this could lead to more repetitive products.

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To study these potentially varied effects, the researchers propose a plan with six topics:

1. Individual skills: Does AI really make individual developers more creative? For which tasks, and how long do the effects last?

2. Team skills: How does using AI affect creativity in teams? How do people react when AI leads brainstorming sessions?

3. The product: Does AI-supported development create more innovative products with a better user experience? Or is there a risk things will become too similar?

4. Unintended results: What negative effects could there be, like losing skills and less mentoring?

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5. Social impact: How does AI-driven software development change the job and how software is seen?

6. Human aspects: Do developers feel valued or devalued by AI? Do they actively take part or do they try to break AI systems?

According to the researchers, these issues should be addressed early and from multiple perspectives. Only then can the opportunities be fully realized and the risks mitigated. The goal should be a responsible use of generative AI in software development that supports creativity and new ideas without devaluing human skills.

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Summary
  • Researchers from the U.S., Denmark, the Netherlands, Canada, and Brazil have developed a research agenda to explore how generative AI could impact creativity in software development, particularly in terms of product quality and developer motivation.
  • Generative AI for coding, such as Github Copilot, is already used by many programmers and can help generate ideas, provide inspiration, and make suggestions. However, there are risks associated with its use, such as over-reliance on AI suggestions and the loss of skills.
  • The proposed research agenda covers six topics: individual and team skills, product impact, unintended consequences, societal impact, and human aspects. The goal is to achieve a responsible use of generative AI in software development that supports creativity and new ideas without devaluing human skills.
Sources
Online journalist Matthias is the co-founder and publisher of THE DECODER. He believes that artificial intelligence will fundamentally change the relationship between humans and computers.
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Join the DECODER community on Discord, Reddit or Twitter - we can't wait to meet you.