For as long as there have been technological advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence, a terrifying question has been looming in our minds: Will machines replace us one day? There have been countless movies, series, books, etc., written about AI and robots’ inevitable replacement of the human workforce. The latest concern is that ChatGPT will replace programmers. But is this something we really need to worry about?
The world of Artificial Intelligence has expanded exponentially overnight. Every day we see more art generated using artificial intelligence art synthesis, and we have even seen the first ever short film wholly written and directed by an AI. The same AI can programme simple lines of code, raising the question, will ChatGPT replace programmers someday?
Mike Abel brought up the interesting topic with a Facebook post, pointing out how ChatGPT has exploded in popularity in the last few months alone. There have been reports of large technology companies laying off large amounts of their employees and investing a lot of money in creating and developing artificial intelligence programmes. As it is, Microsoft has introduced an aspect of AI into a few of its programmes. For example, it works on a programme that can synthesise anyone’s voice with just a few seconds of audio reference.
What happens when a workforce gets replaced by robotics or AI? It is a smart choice for companies. A computer doesn’t need to sleep, or eat, doesn’t burn out creatively (only mechanically), doesn’t have a family they need to provide for, and doesn’t get sick or need leave days. A computer is a perfect worker, the perfect employee. But what happens to the people?
Abel mentions that while it might make sense for a company to move towards an option that would be cheaper in the long run (they don’t have to worry about paying a salary with a computer), the company can’t just think about the benefit brought to them. For example, suppose an entire sector of the employment market is taken over by machines. In that case, a total workforce is left jobless in a field they have specialised in. That means an entire group of working-class citizens are left without a means to provide for their families.
While technology is undoubtedly the way to go in the future, Abel reminds us that even employers are human, and need to think about the humanitarian aspect of replacing their workforce with machines. Furthermore, technology is advancing at a pace that is far more rapid than the pace of creating new jobs for those that might lose them in this inevitable significant shift towards AI and machines.
Although the shift towards technology seems inevitable, many experts in robotics, artificial intelligence, and programming believe that as ChatGPT stands right now, there is no way that it will completely replace programmers, writers, and artists. At the end of the day, AI isn’t perfect and is a tool to be used to create, not replace. Austin Nguyen, a software developer working on their own bot, weighed in on the discussion, telling readers why it is unlikely that ChatGPT will replace programmers.
ChatGPT has emerged as a powerful tool with many uses in the last few months, able to generate code when given some prompts. First, of course, you need to know a little about what you are doing to provide the bot with the appropriate prompts, but there is another problem. The generated code only sometimes functions correctly. When it does, it is generally a simple code template that can serve a particular function, only accomplishing a little.
Another important aspect of programming is that programmers have to be able to analyse problems with code and come up with solutions that require logic and creativity. A machine might run on pure reason, but it doesn’t have originality or critical thinking, especially not on the human level. So a programmer can come up with a solution that is both elegant and highly efficient, says Nguyen, making them more valuable than an AI.
Nguyen also mentioned that programmers don’t just produce code. They also fix bugs, keep improving their existing code for newer release versions, and work with a whole development team to do this. ChatGPT is a great tool that can make programmers’ jobs a little simpler for them, using them for mundane and trivial tasks, allowing them to focus on the creative side, which “require human intelligence.”
Another user on Quora agreed with Nguyen, saying that ChatGPT is an excellent tool that can be used for code generation and natural language processing but isn’t sophisticated enough to replace the role of a human programmer. “Programming is a creative process that requires human insight and intuition,” something that a machine can’t fully replicate.
Additionally, another explained in more detail. It’s doubtful that users and businesses will be satisfied with the “short command line programs written to do some tiny part of what they actually need,” which is the current limitation of the code written by ChatGPT. Most of the time, the generated code needs to be completed, doesn’t work, and doesn’t accomplish what users need it to do. There is still some element of a human programmer having to go into the code to fix it, find and deal with bugs, and embellish the simply written code.
ChatGPT is more likely to remain a neat tool that helps programmers rather than something that can replace them. It just means that programmers won’t have to type as much because they can get the simple templates of code that they need with short prompts. In this user’s opinion, the likelihood of losing a programming position to someone who is just better at their job and works for less money is higher than losing it to a machine.
For example, the user brought up that the many easy-to-use web development tools, like Wix and WordPress, make web development tasks much easier for the average person but have yet to replace web developers. There will always need to be a person behind the machine, doing prompts, fixing the bugs in the code of the AI itself, what they produce, and more. As they are now, there is no worry about machines replacing man, at least for the next few years.
Megan Oosthuizen is a talented writer hailing from East London, South Africa. With a passion for literature, video games, movies, and TV shows, Megan brings a wealth of knowledge and insight to her work as an entertainment journalist.
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