What Will Developers Do When AI Takes Their Jobs or Reduces Their Pay in the Future?

The term ‘artificial intelligence’ (AI) was first coined by John McCarthy, a computer scientist, way back in 1955. He strongly believed that each and every aspect of learning or any other characteristic of intelligence can in principle be described precisely. As a result, a machine can be programmed to simulate it.

Software engineers have been attempting to achieve this goal ever since. Although this segment was stagnant for a long period of time, it recent years activity in the AI space has started booming.

But as they strive to develop AI even further, what exactly does this mean for software developers?

According to vice president of engineering at Zephyr (a software-testing platform), Hamesh Chawla, AI won’t take away developer jobs. Instead, he believes that AI will drive both innovation and the evolution of developers as a result of a shift in focus toward data science.

Chawla also stated that “as a starting point, developers need to go in with the mindset that democratizing the data will be a key factor in their development model.” This means that machine learning (ML) models need to be placed together once all the data is in place.

As a result, you can say that developers will need to spend more time developing data science skills to build the right actionable insights. “The key here is that data is not an afterthought in this new model, rather front and center of development.”

According to Josh Bersin, the principal and founder of Bersin by Deloitte, “AI is not eliminating jobs, it is creating a shift in the type of jobs by eliminating tasks of jobs, and creating new jobs that are more human jobs.”

What are ‘human jobs?’

Human jobs can be described as work that requires human traits that are yet to be mastered by robots. This can be jobs that require interdisciplinary problem solving, empathy, and communication.

Although AI has made giant strides in recent years, this isn’t going to happen anytime soon. We are in fact nowhere near that kind of intelligence.

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AI that exists today isn’t at the skill level of a programmer just starting out. In fact, it’s nowhere near it. So it’s still at the most basic stage in the evolutionary process. 

So while we will get there eventually, we’re just not there yet. While developers will shift their focus over the coming years, they will probably be the last to be replaced by a machine.

When AI starts doing some of the work, developers will have more time to innovate and learn new skills. In fact, most people will have to develop new skills if they want to stay employed.

Age of the new information economy

When the new information economy is a reality, there will probably be more monopolies and greater inequality. This is because highly qualified, ambitious, and creative professionals will continue to increase their wealth while others will end up unemployed.

Those who will be replaced first are clerks, desk officers, fiscal authorities, and even accountants. Even some lawyers might be replaced as evidenced by an intelligent algorithm that went through the European Court of Human Rights’ decisions and found patterns in the text. After learning from the cases, the algorithm went on to predict the outcome with an accuracy of 79%.

So it makes sense that Deloitte made a prediction that 100,000 jobs in the English legal sector will be automated in the next 20 years. The “Create Your Taste” automated kiosk at the McDonald’s on the corner of Third Avenue and 58th Street in New York City has already replaced humans, so at some level, it’s already happening.

It’s difficult to predict what the future holds, but if AI really does take over, there will be mass changes in society. Companies will be run by humans and humans will still need to get goods (either bought or for free).

For the humans running the companies to be wealthy, there needs to be a functioning economy. For economies to be functional, people will need to be able to buy stuff. So the basic principles of economics will probably keep us going and keep society from falling apart.

So most people, including developers, will probably be doing something if and when AI finally takes over.

How do you think AI will impact your life and livelihood? 

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Andrew Zola is a freelance writer, designer, and artist working in branding and marketing for over ten years. He is a contributor to various publications with a focus on new technology and marketing.

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