AI is getting pretty good at language. Any profession that deals primarily with language - including programming languages - could feel the effects. Developer legend John Carmack sees a future for developers if they adapt.
Large language models like GPT-4 have learned to deal with code as part of their AI training. They can deliver more or less reliable and sophisticated code right out of the box. Code-specialized and optimized models can work even more efficiently with programmers.
OpenAI's GPT-3-based code model Codex, which powers Microsoft's Github Copilot, demonstrates this. Github CEO Tomas Dohmke recently said he expects AI to write almost all code in just five years.
So is it still worth learning to code today?
Fear of AI automation
This is the question that drives a young programmer. He or she turns to developer legend John Carmack, creator of the iconic video game Doom and more, the driving force behind VR breakthroughs for ten years, and now an AI entrepreneur searching for artificial general intelligence.
"I may be putting in all this hard work for nothing. I'm concerned AI will make my future job(s) obsolete before I even get it," the person writes.
But Carmack has some helpful advice: what will matter in the future are "product skills," the ability to focus on the benefits of an application or service - and less on the specifics of the tools.
"Software is just a tool to help accomplish something for people - many programmers never understood that," Carmack writes. With these product skills, the young programmer "will probably be fine," Carmack says, perhaps with handwritten code today and AI guidance later.
From a DM, just in case anyone else needs to hear this. pic.twitter.com/GZl4twl4wP
— John Carmack (@ID_AA_Carmack) March 18, 2023
In general, Carmack sees "plenty of opportunities" for the programming profession over the next decade. However, he expects the composition of "the entire field" to continue to change. "You can still get work as a straight C programmer today, but it is different from 1990," Carmack writes.