Artificial intelligence (AI) has been a developing science for decades. But there have been major advancements in AI over the past few years, raising a lot of questions about how it will impact numerous industries. Likewise, many people are asking: Will AI take over software development?
We’ll look at new developments in AI, like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, and describe how the technology is useful in software development. We’ll also discuss where to draw the line that constitutes relying too heavily on emerging technologies.
Software Developers Have Always Relied on Great Tools
More than 20 years ago, Borland released version 5.x of their C++ debugger, code compiler, and code generator. This saved software developers hundreds of hours of added work by providing a giant library of commands, functions, and project starters.
Long before AI-assisted software development, programmers relied on software that could reduce lengthy projects. Otherwise, they would have to enter thousands of extra lines of code from scratch with each new project—redundant tasks that could potentially introduce new errors.
Software Development Teams Are in High Demand
Today, businesses rely on internet connectivity to communicate with their customers, suppliers, and global workforce. Cloud-based technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT) are advancing at a blistering pace. As technology continues to steer industry, software developers are in critically high demand.
Much like Borland revolutionized code generation over two decades ago, AI is revolutionizing computer-assisted jobs across multiple industries. In fact, AI technology is advancing so quickly many are concerned it could be coming for their careers.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US job market for software developers and QA testers is headed for 25% growth from 2021–2031. Most jobs see 5% growth at most. That’s an average of 162,900 positions needing to be filled every year.
AI already plays a vital role throughout every stage of software development, from design to deployment. To better understand AI’s impact, let’s first take a look at the most publicly recognized version of AI: ChatGPT.
What Is OpenAI’s ChatGPT?
ChatGPT stands for Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer. ChatGPT is an AI chatbot capable of reproducing contextual content based on a user’s input data. This means people can enter ideas for stories, requirements for code snippets, or even music notation, and ChatGPT draws upon the internet as a database to render responses that are often accurate and impressive.
ChatGPT and its transformer-based AI is just one small subset of AI programming, and OpenAI will soon be seeing plenty of competition—starting with Google’s large language model-based AI called Bard—a part of their greater DeepMind AI initiatives.
What Are 3 Ways AI Is Changing Software Development?
AI plays many roles in today’s software development process. But three broad categories define how to use AI in software development today.
1. AI-Based IDEs
AI is used in integrated development environments (IDEs). These are programs that help software developers create other programs. They assist in creating code in a shorter time frame while avoiding errors.
2. Automating Error Detection and Correction
Automation is a key factor to AI’s usefulness in software development. AI assists developers by helping to detect and correct errors.
At times, it’s best for AI to alert the developer of a potential problem in case the AI program doesn’t fully understand the data or context. In other scenarios, it may save time by auto-correcting common errors.
3. Automated Security Audits
In today’s Agile development environment, teams collaborate at every stage. With this flexible approach to AI and software development, teams share common groups of files and consistently create and test smaller applications that combine to make a final product.
AI can continuously and repeatedly test this software for potential security issues. This allows developers to focus on primary objectives and makes it faster and safer to deploy completed stages of development.
The Bottom Line
All three of these qualities share one important characteristic: They assist developers by managing redundant tasks.
Will AI take over software development? In some ways, it’s fair to say it already has. Through automation it’s taking over those repetitive tasks, so developers can fulfill roles where their expertise is the most valued.
What Are Some of the Benefits of AI-Assisted Software Development
AI can be used in countless ways throughout every stage of software development, but the following are the most widely utilized benefits.
AI can streamline how data is produced, optimized, and tested, making it easier to develop more applications in less time—all at a lower cost. The fact that teams can benefit from this efficiency without cutting any corners means AI helps developers and their clients be more competitive in getting products to market.
AI doesn’t tire. It can keep going 24/7 when people would wear down from repetitive tasks. Because AI can scan massive datasets quickly, it allows developers to work at their maximum pace without introducing a higher number of errors.
Freeing Human Resources
The more AI can do, the more it allows people to tend to the tasks they’re highly trained for. AI-assisted automation means expensive labor is being utilized where it matters most.
Software Engineers Are Still 100% Necessary
As industries rely more heavily on AI automation, there will be even greater competition using this technology to optimize processes, reduce costs, and accelerate production.
Software developers create and oversee the code that improves AI and machine learning, and perhaps it is ironic—the very software developers create is helping them create new software.
AI Isn’t Perfect
Software developers rely on AI to stay at the cutting edge of demand, but it’s just as important for teams not to become dependent on AI’s weaker characteristics. The following are some of AI’s drawbacks:
- AI-generated code may be good for ideation, but it isn’t guaranteed to be error-free.
- Programs like ChatGPT are unable to modify code they’ve already generated, largely because everything they create is derived from code that already exists.
- ChatGPT is only pulling data up to 2021, meaning information can be outdated. It is unaware of any important new events, and especially regarding development, it cannot remain current about new security threats like viruses.
AI and machine learning are powerful tools for software development, but they are not a replacement for human developers.
The Best Software Developers Use AI: Today & in the Future
As AI becomes more sophisticated, it gains a better understanding of intent and meaning in code. AI will continue to evolve in the years to come, assisting developers even more. Meanwhile, the world around us is becoming more technologically advanced.
Software development plays a crucial role in developing new technologies like blockchain, the connectivity of IoT smart devices, and apps that coordinate all of the new ways people interact online. AI will help leading development teams keep in step with the velocity of innovation.
If you’re ready to partner with our nearshore development team for your long-term projects, we’d love to talk with you about the many ways we use the latest AI technologies to create applications of any size at cost and on time.
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