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AI

The Robots That Will Put Coders Out of Work 266

snydeq writes Researchers warn that a glut of code is coming that will depress wages and turn coders into Uber drivers, InfoWorld reports. "The researchers — Boston University's Seth Benzell, Laurence Kotlikoff, and Guillermo LaGarda, and Columbia University's Jeffrey Sachs — aren't predicting some silly, Terminator-like robot apocalypse. What they are saying is that our economy is entering a new type of boom-and-bust cycle that accelerates the production of new products and new code so rapidly that supply outstrips demand. The solution to that shortage will be to figure out how not to need those hard-to-find human experts. In fact, it's already happening in some areas."
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The Robots That Will Put Coders Out of Work

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 21, 2015 @01:05AM (#49099025)

    This time was different :(

    • Re:But CNN Said... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ATMAvatar ( 648864 ) on Saturday February 21, 2015 @01:19AM (#49099095) Journal
      Don't worry too much. Economics is essentially pseudoscience, so don't put too much stock in the report.
      • Re:But CNN Said... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Saturday February 21, 2015 @01:50AM (#49099201)

        don't put too much stock in the report.

        It is ridiculous that they think programmers will become Uber drivers. We will have self driving cars long before we have robots that write code.

        • If there are no driving jobs, or cleaning jobs, and the robots harvest all the food, they can always become hospice workers for the starving unemployed masses.

          Or just have less work to do, but CNN is probably talking about US jobs, not European ones.

        • Re:But CNN Said... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by bondsbw ( 888959 ) on Saturday February 21, 2015 @04:15AM (#49099481)

          Something similar can be said about this prediction in general. Before the programmer who is automating job X is laid off, the person currently performing job X will be laid off due to the new program. Programmers will outlast the positions they are automating.

          Which is easier, programmers moving on to another automation, or the replaced employee learning a different skill?

          If I were the author, I'd worry less about the programmer and more about how this world will handle the potential mass unemployment situation.

          • Before the programmer who is automating job X is laid off, the person currently performing job X will be laid off due to the new program. Programmers will outlast the positions they are automating.

            A lot of positions require learning algorithms. Once you have those, what's stopping them from learning whole new jobs without programmer's intervention?

            If I were the author, I'd worry less about the programmer and more about how this world will handle the potential mass unemployment situation.

            It has run up huge

            • I think something different. Being poor is only a problem if you need money. So what happens when we design an economy that doesn't need money?
          • by skids ( 119237 )

            If I were the author, I'd worry less about the programmer and more about how this world will handle the potential mass unemployment situation.

            If I were the author, I'd worry about someone developing a robot that can turn a flimsy premise into a an acedemic paper.

        • Re:But CNN Said... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by tburkhol ( 121842 ) on Saturday February 21, 2015 @07:45AM (#49099807)

          We will have self driving cars long before we have robots that write code.

          But we already have robots that write code. Almost no one actually writes machine code anymore, depending instead on assemblers, compilers, templates, or interpreters to do it for them. Those 'robots' have gotten progressively more complex and progressively better at figuring out what the programmer means by larger language constructions. The languages have moved closer to natural languages.

          Already, it seems like the difficult part is getting the managers to properly specify the desired functionality. It's not a huge leap to imagine that one might construct a formal language for program specification that would allow you to automate translation of the spec into a code skeleton.

          • Re:But CNN Said... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Saturday February 21, 2015 @01:21PM (#49100989) Journal

            It's not a huge leap to imagine that one might construct a formal language for program specification that would allow you to automate translation of the spec into a code skeleton.

            It already exists, it's called UML. The problem is, the specifications typically turn out to be as big and complex as it would have been originally writing in actual code. People who try to implement ideas like yours are usually surprised to find that there isn't really much redundancy in the code to begin with, thus writing the spec requires quite a number of details.

            • Fundamentally, it will always be necessary to take somebody's ideas in imprecise thought and language and turn it into something precise and formal. I don't care whether what's precise and formal is raw machine language or a UML specification, the transition is where the programming is.

              It's been getting easier for non-programmers to do things for decades. Whenever that happens, there's a demand for programmers to do new things they couldn't do before. I can't really predict how long that will last, bu

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        Economics isn't pseudoscience. Would you say sociology, psychology,etc are not science just because your narrow definition of science is exact science, those fields like physics, chemistry and mathematics which are leading to one single unambiguous answer? As soon as humans are involved the complexity is many magnitudes of order higher than the most complex physics theory, hence the results cannot lead to a single and well defined answer. Economics is about humans and humans' behavior. Even meteorology and
        • by gargleblast ( 683147 ) on Saturday February 21, 2015 @04:06AM (#49099475)

          Even meteorology and climatology ... are failing to predict the future ...

          I bet you die in a thunderstorm.

        • Re:But CNN Said... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Saturday February 21, 2015 @06:10AM (#49099667)

          Economics isn't pseudoscience.

          Most of the time, economics is simply various economists or think tanks pushing policies advantageous to their patron's ideological or financial goals. So it's not even pseudoscience, but flat-out astrology.

        • Would you say sociology, psychology,etc are not science just because your narrow definition of science is exact science, those fields like physics, chemistry and mathematics which are leading to one single unambiguous answer?

          Yes.
          It's actually pretty easy to prove that economics is flawed.
          Just take one of the many bullshit predictions (e.g. possibility of infinite growth) that is in direct contradiction with physical laws.
          Economics isn't even on http://xkcd.com/435/ [xkcd.com].

  • by Kaenneth ( 82978 ) on Saturday February 21, 2015 @01:06AM (#49099031) Homepage Journal

    Well, someone will have to write the detailed specification, and list of instructions for the system to use to know what the humans want it to code. We could call that person a 'Programmerator' and the system a 'Compileatron'.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by siddesu ( 698447 )
      No, this dream about the 'new jobs' isn't supported by a lot of evidence. New jobs will likely not be created in the numbers necessary to give jobs to everyone displaced. Actually, not even close, and that'll be true in all sectors. https://ir.citi.com/FItMGwO7Z6... [citi.com]
    • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Saturday February 21, 2015 @01:29AM (#49099141)

      Meh. I'd read this as:

      "Researchers and writers jealous of massive demand and high wages of programmers, predict doom and gloom for those that picked a reasonably lucrative career path". Or perhaps "You programmed all this shit that's taking our jobs away... you'll get yours too someday!" Of course, the article is paywalled, so I can't see how ridiculous and speculative it is for myself. Or rather, I wouldn't bother to pay.

      Most of the examples in the article covered things like writing passable articles on local sports stories. That's a little bit different than the work I do, thank you, which isn't copy-paste crapola or rattling out statistics surrounded by fluff. It's the sort of stuff I get headaches designing and thinking about for days on end, spend time rewriting and optimizing, and talking about with other programmer friends when I come up with a really elegant solution. It's trying to figure out how to do things that no one else has actually done before, and doing it with very demanding constraints of size and speed.

      Maybe some jobs can be automated away, but I'd probably have a hard time calling them real programming jobs if that's the case. A lot of programming is about creative problems solving, not just pure logic, which is just the means to an end. If a "robot" can do that before I'm dead, I'll eat my hat.

      • by itzly ( 3699663 ) on Saturday February 21, 2015 @02:40AM (#49099301)

        It's trying to figure out how to do things that no one else has actually done before, and doing it with very demanding constraints of size and speed

        The demanding constraints are constantly getting less, though. I remember spending days to squeeze the code into 1024 instructions into a small microcontroller. Nowadays, I can get 1MB flash for the same price, and use maybe 40kB of it.

        • by znrt ( 2424692 )

          the demand of functionality however is also getting more. did you expect anyone to ask you to do elgamal encryption on a cell phone browser back in the day?

          there will be always problems to be solved. the trivial stuff you can give to 'key punchers'. or robots, for that matter, once we have created the right tools. i don't think we have. article is bs (if it is even remotely related to the summary. didn't bother to read)

      • Meh. I'd read this as: "Researchers and writers jealous of massive demand and high wages of programmers, predict doom and gloom for those that picked a reasonably lucrative career path".

        You might want to look at the salaries tenured CS and EE professors make before taking bets on that.
         

      • by AchilleTalon ( 540925 ) on Saturday February 21, 2015 @03:21AM (#49099401) Homepage
        You are about right. Considering there is actually many jobs even higher paid than tech and programmers' jobs, then why this exact rational from TFA hasn't yet been applied to these jobs since the savings will be much greater? Many diagnostics and prescriptions from omnipraticians doctors could be replaced by automated systems with higher success rate and lower error rate in prescriptions and much lower price than the average or even expert doctor these days. These doctors essentially measure a small amount of physical characteristics, pulse, blood pressure, temperature and ask few questions to finally reach a diagnostic. This can be automated for the vast majority of common diseases. And when the application cannot reach a diagnostic because the case is too complex it could even ask for more information, blood analysis, CT-scan, bacteriological culture, etc. Which a nurse can take a sample as required of the tissus needed or the blood sample to be sent to a lab for analysis and the results being returned back to the automated system for further analysis. If at the end, the program cannot reach a diagnostic with a high probability, then the case can be refered to human doctors and probably to a panel of experts because at this point it is very likely the regular average doctor will not be able to do better.
        • The only problem with this is the likelihood of the software being accurate and incorruptible. There would be a massive drop in the amount and type of pills it would prescribe, so big pharma would oppose it every step of the way.

        • I see where you're coming from. However, doctors' jobs are probably more secure than your typical coder (someone less great than say Linus Torvalds or even that guy that wrote up systemd). Why? Because (witch-)doctoring, with the possible exception of the top-tier surgeons (analogies to the top tier of computing), is only partly about curing people. The typical doctor is more of human relations shaman, assuring that hypertensive old man or that overstressed young urban professional, don't worry, there's a p

        • You are about right. Considering there is actually many jobs even higher paid than tech and programmers' jobs, then why this exact rational from TFA hasn't yet been applied to these jobs since the savings will be much greater? Many diagnostics and prescriptions from omnipraticians doctors could be replaced by automated systems with higher success rate and lower error rate in prescriptions and much lower price than the average or even expert doctor these days. These doctors essentially measure a small amount of physical characteristics, pulse, blood pressure, temperature and ask few questions to finally reach a diagnostic. This can be automated for the vast majority of common diseases. And when the application cannot reach a diagnostic because the case is too complex it could even ask for more information, blood analysis, CT-scan, bacteriological culture, etc. Which a nurse can take a sample as required of the tissus needed or the blood sample to be sent to a lab for analysis and the results being returned back to the automated system for further analysis. If at the end, the program cannot reach a diagnostic with a high probability, then the case can be refered to human doctors and probably to a panel of experts because at this point it is very likely the regular average doctor will not be able to do better.

          You are already seeing that at he GP level where an NP is replacing an MD as the main caregiver; mainly because an NP makes 2/3 of what a GP does. A GP essentially treats symptoms and if they go away you're cured; the real value is in the GP or NP knowing when to send you to a specialist. It's bit more complicated than simply looking at test results, however since things such as physical characteristics, odors, twitches, etc require observation and possibly questioning beyond mere test results and that is w

      • Meh. I'd read this as:

        "Researchers and writers jealous of massive demand and high wages of programmers, predict doom and gloom for those that picked a reasonably lucrative career path". Or perhaps "You programmed all this shit that's taking our jobs away... you'll get yours too someday!"

        I think it is more like "don't think because you learned a reasonably valuable skill that that skill can't be devalued through, or replaced by, automation." It's a pattern that has repeated itself throughout history as machines replaced human labor.

        Most of the examples in the article covered things like writing passable articles on local sports stories. That's a little bit different than the work I do, thank you, which isn't copy-paste crapola or rattling out statistics surrounded by fluff. It's the sort of stuff I get headaches designing and thinking about for days on end, spend time rewriting and optimizing, and talking about with other programmer friends when I come up with a really elegant solution. It's trying to figure out how to do things that no one else has actually done before, and doing it with very demanding constraints of size and speed.

        Maybe some jobs can be automated away, but I'd probably have a hard time calling them real programming jobs if that's the case. A lot of programming is about creative problems solving, not just pure logic, which is just the means to an end. If a "robot" can do that before I'm dead, I'll eat my hat.

        I also think that is a more likely scenario. Many programming jobs are little more than glorified assembly line work where some basic stock code is adapted to a specific job. That's why a lot of it is outsourced since it really doesn't require a sophisticated lev

      • by RabidReindeer ( 2625839 ) on Saturday February 21, 2015 @10:57AM (#49100351)

        They've been predicting this sort of thing for literally decades. Anyone here old enough to remember "4GLs"?

        Software development is a creative art, much to the frustration of those in management that want it to be unskilled labor. Every time we get more powerful tools, all we do is come up with more powerful demands.

        There are some areas where little new software development is being done, since we already have a glut of editors and accounting systems that work more or less well off-the-rack, but every business seems to have certain areas where only bespoke software will do for them. Either customizations on a standard product or a completely in-house designed product.

        The time to worry is when one of those "instant app" systems comes out that actually CAN deal with stuff like that. The hallmark of all of the very long line of "silver bullet" programmers-will-become-obsolete systems is that they can do a real bang-up job as long as all you want is to write the same program over and over again. But they all (so far) start breaking down the minute the end users say "That's wonderful. But can you just make it do...?"

      • "Researchers and writers jealous of massive demand and high wages of programmers, predict doom and gloom for those that picked a reasonably lucrative career path". Or perhaps "You programmed all this shit that's taking our jobs away... you'll get yours too someday!"

        There will be AI that generates articles before there is AI that generates computer programs. All it has to do is find a trending topic on Twitter/Reddit/Facebook, quote the most popular tweet, add some (Watson/Wikipedia based) facts, slap on a picture of a hot model with a headline like "You Won't Believe What X said about Y." All Buzzfeed writers can then be fired.

    • by znrt ( 2424692 )

      hey, we will have to invent some sort of agilatronics to plot the value of that onto our powerpointatrons!

  • HA! (Score:5, Funny)

    by retech ( 1228598 ) on Saturday February 21, 2015 @01:08AM (#49099043)
    Jokes one them. Uber's robot cares are going to put Uber drivers out of business.
    • by tmosley ( 996283 )
      Nah, they just stop driving people around and start running errands for people instead.
    • Researchers warn that a glut of code is coming that will depress wages and turn coders into Uber drivers,

      So what we have discussed hundreds of times here, and what I have seen labelled racism, is finally admitted flat out. I am personally rather impressed by the honesty.

  • By the time they are ready to embrace the future they were promised it will be gone. Ah well at least it might be an amusing hobby for them.

  • Nothing new (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stephanruby ( 542433 ) on Saturday February 21, 2015 @01:17AM (#49099079)

    This is nothing new. For instance, word processing consultants were put out of business by Word Perfect. If those former word processing consultants wanted to stay relevant, they had to retrain themselves. In software development, we're constantly trying to automate our own work and replace ourselves, until one day we're actually successful at it, and then we have to find a new problem to solve if we want to stay relevant on the open market.

    I'm not sure why those guys are taking a jab at Uber thought. Uber isn't replacing Taxis. It's meeting the demands of the open market during peak hours, which Taxis are incapable of filling by themselves (at least, not in places like San Francisco or New York where it's absolutely impossible to get a taxi during the time when you most need one).

  • Will there also be robots to write reviews of the coding robots?
  • TFA is crap and has nothing to do with TFP which is also crap.

    A quote from the Introduction of the paper (The alive reader will notice that they failed to spellcheck it):
    Ironically, smart machines are invaluable for considering what they might do
    to us and when they might do it. This paper uses the most versatile of smart
    machines – a run-of-the-mill computer – to simulate one particular vision of hu-
    man replacement. Our simulated economy – an overlapping generations model
    – is bare bon

  • ... he just endorsed the (fallacious) idea that all children need to learn to code.

  • Article is Hype (Score:5, Informative)

    by PerlPunk ( 548551 ) on Saturday February 21, 2015 @01:24AM (#49099119) Homepage Journal

    I read the article, and I'm not buying it.

    I can see programmers in some small, well-understood niche markets replaced by complex applications (which require more programmers to write!) and causing some programmers to go looking elsewhere for jobs. But new technologies for computer-aided software design are not going to cause structural unemployment any time soon in the IT profession.

    Some reasons include the cost of miracle software-building robots will be at a premium, which means only the biggest players would be able to afford them. And after they purchase them, they will only be able to work well within a limited number of tasks.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What is happening is companies are farming our their dev to Indian agencies (while they are so cheap). What comes back is buggy, badly designed but mostly done. The company's dev start then bang it into shape. I've worked both sides of the Atlantic freelance and I'm seeing this outsourcing all the time, as have associates in my field. It's not as complete outsourcing like we saw in the late 80s early 90s, it's just bulk code generation. You would be surprised who is doing this, even very big names in financ

    • Some reasons include the cost of miracle software-building robots will be at a premium, which means only the biggest players would be able to afford them.

      You don't need a robot to code (the biggest sign the article is BS). You need AI software. The robot body is superfluous and making it type would be idiotic. The software can be reproduced almost freely once it's been created. Everyone will have it.

  • by afgam28 ( 48611 ) on Saturday February 21, 2015 @01:28AM (#49099137)

    Imagine how many more programmers would be needed if we didn't have compilers. Or automatic code generators. And the whole point of machine learning is that you write software that teaches itself how to do something, rather than program it directly.

    Software developers have been quite good at moving up into higher levels of abstraction each time we multiply our productivity. There's so much work to do that I doubt our tools will ever "displace" us.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pitchpipe ( 708843 )

      There's so much work to do that I doubt our tools will ever "displace" us.

      I find it so strange when otherwise seemingly intelligent people use the word 'never' regarding artificial intelligence. If our brains operate according to the known laws of the universe, then why would you suppose that the piece of meat between our ears could never be improved upon. Really?! Never?

      • by itzly ( 3699663 )

        When that time comes, maybe the robots can keep us as pets. We should start looking into activating our genes to get nice soft fur all over our skin.

  • That's the goal. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Craig Macomber ( 3864291 ) on Saturday February 21, 2015 @01:31AM (#49099159)

    Any good software architect or engineer should have the goal of minimizing the needed code / work for a project. If it takes metaprogramming, then fine. If it requires creating general purpose run-times (such as auto optimizers, such as simple hill climbers or as advanced as large neural nets) thats fine too. If the general purpose runtimes can code and thus are meta programs, great.

    The idea of declarative programming for specialized run-times is nothing new. If you apply it to a general runtime that can do programming, you then have a system that makes functions that meet specs: programming moves to producing what ever declarative specs such a system consumes. Once again its just a move to a higher level language and abstraction. If (and thats a big if) its trivial to write in such a language, and all us coders no longer need skill or experience to develop new applications and we all become unemployed, well, thats the goal right: make developing your applications trivial?

    Every advancement we make, assemblers, higher level languages (like C), and all those language paradigms (OOP, functional, generics/templates etc) are supposed to help with this. So are libraries. We make software hundreds of thousands of times more complex than we used to because of these advances. Much of the software of today may become trivialized by the coming advancements just as much old software has been since we started programming. Maybe we will just keep making software more complex, or maybe well will create more different applications, or maybe we will just have time to catch up, optimize and fix all the broken shit? Or most of us could become unemployed because we have enough complexity, and new tools will make the work needed go down not up.

  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Saturday February 21, 2015 @01:39AM (#49099177) Homepage Journal

    This is a "we'll all have flying cars" sort of paper by people who could not make flying cars but were convinced that they'd be here any moment.

    Strong AI is the first "computer program" that has the potential to automate the act of creativity. Everything less can be a compiler, a pattern recognizer, an Uber driver, and in general a tool that does what it is told .

    And we are not particularly closer to Strong AI than when it was first theorized.

    I would be more impressed with a paper by people who could actually make the software these guys theorize about, rather than sophomoricaly discussing it.

    • I would be more impressed with a paper by people who could actually make the software these guys theorize about, rather than sophomoricaly discussing it.

      umm... who exactly "could actually make the software these guys theorize about"? the whole world is dying to know an frankly i would love to chat with the person that makes mankind obsolete.

  • It was called The Last One [wikipedia.org]
  • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Saturday February 21, 2015 @01:44AM (#49099189) Homepage Journal

    Anything that can be automated will be. An awful lot of programmers are already doing nothing more than running macros and "smart commands" with IDEs like Eclipse to produce the bulk of their code. Given a sufficiently detailed application model and an appropriate rule engine, the need for that "skillset" becomes obsolete.

    Eventually only the highest level functions will need to be coded "by hand", themselves driven by the application models instead of class and structure definitions.

    Throughout my career as a programmer and even after I retired, programming has consistently and constantly evolved to higher and higher levels of abstraction. It's only a matter of time, effort, and the question of who will be first to market.

    But it will happen.

  • by cas2000 ( 148703 ) on Saturday February 21, 2015 @01:48AM (#49099195)

    the first, due to happen right now, is a bunch of smug posts claiming that programmers are too smart and talented for anything like that to happen to them. obsolescence is for the merit-less poor, people doing crappy non-programming, non-geek jobs - people who actually deserve to be treated like shit. it could never happen to them, they're far too important.

    in a few years, when it is actually happening to them, there'll be a bunch of whining posts about how unfair it is that programmers have to compete with machines for their jobs, that was never supposed to happen to the super-smart, super-talented entitled rich white dudes...they'll all be crying something like "Google, why hast thou forsaken me?"

    even then, these stupid entitled fucks will cling to their idiotic libertarian beliefs and refuse to believe that the owner class, the 1%, the bosses, the venture capitalists don't give a fuck about them and never have - if they think of programmers at all it's with resentment that they currently need some people who are difficult to replace....all worker units are meant to be slot-in replacements for each other, and they'll invest large sums of money to make sure that's the case for everyone.

  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Saturday February 21, 2015 @01:54AM (#49099211)

    A lot of coding is busy work. And I'm sure the AIs can do a lot of it. But who hasn't been sitting there doing it and thought "I'm too smart to be doing this stupid job."... because that happens all the time for a lot of people in a lot of jobs. And yeah... a computer or a monkey could do those jobs so long as they were taught how to do the trick.

    But the nifty problem solving that only humans are still capable of doing? That's a different matter.

    Rather then getting all upset about people losing jobs they hate to machines rejoice that the jobs of the future will be more interesting because the only things you'll need humans for will be more interesting work.

    Here someone will say "but there are a lot of stupid humans that can't do interesting work!"... yes and no. A stupid human isn't going to do anything that requires high level human intelligence. But even low level human intelligence is actually very useful if properly applied.

    At some point, low human intelligence is going to be a barrier to entry to the job market. But really, it is already a huge problem for someone if they're stupid. Lots of jobs simply are closed to them and that is likely going to get worse going forward.

    Anyway, I'm not worried about it. I'm just looking forward to the expert systems that I can use to help me cut out the busy work in my coding. Sounds like fun.

    • I wish I had your optimism.

      From where I sit, the world is driven by one thing, and one thing only. The shameless desire to appropriate ever greater of material goods and or physical pleasures, by those with the means to appropriate them, at the expense of everyone else.

      Take for instance, the cellphone industry.

      The trend there is not to create an adaptive, versatile phone that manifests true quality of workmanship and forward thinking-- Such a device would be sold once, and would stick around far too long, r

      • As to cellphones, you're focusing on a transitioning market. You have to wait for it to stablize before you make those sorts of comments. Already we can see it stabilizing. Once the phones do everything you need them to do and do it well enough that you don't care... then it becomes harder to push the new model.

        What is more we have products phoneblocks that could make phones entirely modular.

        As to your comment on 100 percent automation... that's nonsense. You're assuming mass coordination. If I can 100 perc

    • A lot of coding is busy work

      Then you're doing it wrong.

      • Agreed. That is the point. However, a lot of coding is busy work. And by throwing more expert systems and AIs at the issue most of the busy work should go away.

        if your job as a coder is to do the busy work... then you're going to get your job threatened by these systems.

        If they're more like you and you don't do that sort of thing, then these expert systems and AIs are no threat to you.

        • Agreed. That is the point. However, a lot of coding is busy work.

          I'm not sure what coding you're talking about that is just busy work.

          • You're right... all coding is deeply cerebral work that requires only the highest levels of human intelligence and creativity. None of it is derivative or largely a matter of connecting A to B over and fucking over again.

            Obviously a good deal of coding and especially debugging is a matter of going through and actualizing a simple objective that tends to involve a lot iteration. There is also a lot of checking to make sure the thing you thought was happening is actually happening... and especially if that th

  • Please stop posting sensationalistic InfoWorld articles submitted by snydeq [slashdot.org].

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Saturday February 21, 2015 @02:37AM (#49099297) Journal

    Back in my FoxPro days I cranked out smallish biz apps like lightning with 1/4 the code I use now. The multi-layered client-server and then the HTML/CSS/JS/foo++/SQL stack gummed up that and turned CRUD into a mini bureaucracy.

    Blow up the HTML stack and create GUI and CRUD-friendly browsers and markup, and database-integrated table-driven languages, and many internal biz coders will go gone. (No, MS-Access didn't integrate the database and code side well. I don't count it.)

  • Dilbert Complete (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Saturday February 21, 2015 @03:08AM (#49099371) Journal

    Let's see them work with PHB's and clueless users to nail down "requirements". Automating logic is easy, automating prediction of random idiots is not so easy because randomness is by definition not predictable.

    You have go to lunch with and sit in boring meetings with them to figure them out, and the robot will be booted out of the room because it will ask good but embarrassing, ego-shattering questions; and not get the design analogies that use Kardashian asses as reference points, asking silly questions in an attempt to figure it out. The business world is bunches of social institutions much more than it is think tanks.

    You are trying to replace humans, not Vulcans. Kirk ran the missions better than Spock because he could identify better with illogical and petty aliens.

    • by itzly ( 3699663 )

      There's no fundamental reason why robots couldn't do all those things as well as humans. In the end, our brain is nothing but a big information processing unit.

      • by prefec2 ( 875483 )

        You are wrong. This is a typical misconception. A brain works quite differently based on some analogous pattern and with certain chemicals affecting the processing. We actually do not know how the brain really works and why it works that way. Therefore, you cannot conclude your brain model out of the observations. If you ever had a hunch, you should know that your brain is able to come up with ideas which you are not able to determine logically.

    • You are trying to replace humans, not Vulcans. Kirk ran the missions better than Spock because he could identify better with illogical and petty aliens.

      Kirk ran the missions better because the writers were flattering the audience. In reality a rational machine will simply learn how humans actually react, not how they should react according to logic/economics/whatever.

    • by prefec2 ( 875483 )

      Normally people are not irrational, they just do not know what they need. Therefore, it is ITs job to dive in the realm of the customer and learn their language and domain. The task is called domain engineering and requires skills in sociology, phsychology, and computer science. It works that way when working with engineers as customers in the same way as with business people, however, the meaning of words totally different. The engineers are even more complicated. We were developing a domain specific langu

    • by Livius ( 318358 )

      Maybe a few humans can work *for* the robots keeping the PHBs out of their way while they get the actual job done.

    • People Skills: http://youtu.be/mGS2tKQhdhY?t=52s [youtu.be]

    • Yeah. Once the specification is well defined enough for an AI to understand it, it's well defined enough to just compile.
  • BS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 21, 2015 @03:17AM (#49099387)

    The article does not have anything even worthy of consideration. It is just bloat with a snappy headline. The story goes like this: we know there is technical progress, software developers are in as high demand as never before, with wages 70% above other 'induatrial workers'. In the past, such high skilled workforce lead to investment into automation, and that's already happening. Case in point: standardized sports events are written by computers, not journalist. See? If you can replace journalists, sure developers are in immediate danger. After all, not much difference, developers and journalists alike type on keyboards and sit in offices and are good at exressing their thoughts in words. Developers beware!!

    Again, just plain and utter BS. Makes me wonder if that article was written by a bot, too.

    • by prefec2 ( 875483 )

      It is full of flawed logic. It was either a template based generator who does not check on the internal logic of the generated output. Or it was a clueless human which is the wetware implementation of the same thing. Even if it were true that their is a high demand in skilled coders, then this would lead to automation, but this would result in just another level of abstraction and would require even more skilled workers. Beside that, I just had a conversation yesterday, that they were unable to port an old

      • How many man years were in the Access DB?

        Access is a steaming pile. But once balls got rolling...I saw one with a good 50 person years development. Awful ball of workarounds, duplicate functions and attached tables...decent chance your electric utility used it to trade power 10 years ago. Granting it was just Access frontend, SQL server back (I was the poor bastard that made that cut).

        Replacing that in your schedule would be barely possible if you had institutional knowledge of _everything_ the POS did

  • The Immortals will rise, and they will put the coders out of work.

    But not before the rest of you.

    Mwha hahaha.

  • First of all, the argumentation of the article is wrong. And second, the automation of coding is no new thing happening in this world. At the beginning of programming people draw solutions on paper, then encoded them in machine operations and pushed holes in punchcards. All these tasks were first done by humans and then subsequently transferred to machines and computers, by assemblers, compilers and later build systems. As time passed only the jobs where algorithms had to be written remained making compiler

  • Same old story (Score:3, Informative)

    by paradigm82 ( 959074 ) on Saturday February 21, 2015 @07:31AM (#49099781)
    This story comes up every few years. They are all written off the same template, like how this new generation of tools will allow everyone to write their own apps, and you don't need professional programmers, and here's an example of an 8-year old who made an app in two minutes etc. These stories are written by people who don't have a clue what the working day of a programmer looks like, and imagines something sitting isolated at his desk typing in code all day
    The programmer's job is to translate the requirements from other humans into requirements that a machine can understand. For very well-defined domains of applications, it is indeed possible for non-programmers to use tools that can achieve the same thing. That was the same with VB 1.0 or equivalents prior to that. I don't think the scope of possible applications that can be written in this way has broadened much in the decades after. Applications that is just a dialog with very simple logic can be written by drawing the dialog and copy-pasting and adapting small statements etc.
    Beyond that there's not been much progress in "auto-writing" applications. The reason is, that the current programming languages are actually fairly efficient and precise ways of explaining to a computer what it should do. The job of the programmer is to translate the "business" requirements into that specification.
    Even for a fairly trivial stand-alone program computers can't do this today. Even if that were to happen, consider that much of the programmer's time is not spent writing code within some confined, well-defined environment, just writing line after line. Rather, it is spent understanding the customer-specific requirements, realizing if they are impossible/inconsistent and working out a solution together with the customer, integrating multiple systems and many different levels in those systems using completely different interfaces and paradigms, and figuring out how it is all going to work together.
    My experience is that most automatic code-writing and analysis tool stop working when you add this layer of complexity. They may work well for a completely stand-alone Java application with a main() method, but how does it work when you have client code, native code, server code, 10 diff. frameworks, 3rd party libraries some written in other languages, external web services, legacy systems, end-users who think about things in different ways than the internal data models etc, implicit contracts/conventions, leaky abstractions, unspecified time-out conditions, workarounds required due to bug in other systems and difference in end-user setups? The complexity and bugs here is always resolved by human programmers and I suspect it will be that way for a long, long time even if computers manage to be able to write stand-alone programs themselves (which IMHO will be the point where we have something approaching general AI). While you can take individual aspects of these problems and formalize them, the amount of combinations and the diversity in scenarios is so big, that it becomes impractical.
    If you have competent programmers, most of the bugs are going to be in these areas, since it is also easy for a competent human programmer to write a stand-alone program that works well on one machine.
  • I'm not sure I buy the whole argument, but there is one thing that might come true. Most development frameworks are so far abstracted from the actual hardware and software dependencies that it might as well be like gluing together functionality chunks. This has and will continue to make simple application/web development more accessible. Look at iOS and Android -- lots of the hard work is done for the developer. Instead of calling into the database directly, a complex API feature optimizes the query somewha

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