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Will computers replace programmers and eventually write their own code? Yes. Soon.

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Strong Artificial Intelligence (AI) is going to play a huge influence in code development in the next 10 to 20 years. I can’t imagine that we will ever completely eliminate the need for humans to learn code development in that time span, but a lot of it will be automated and written by machines themselves. So will computers replace programmers? Yes, eventually. However, programmers will evolve into computer “trainers”. Read on…

It may seem a bit crazy to some, but then so was the idea of self driving cars 20 years ago. It was a little too futuristic. And yet in Pittsburgh today Uber is test driving production self driving taxis on the streets. It’s a pilot project but considering self driving cars did not exist 10 years ago…it’s incredible. The AI in these cars is incredible too. They take in live data react to it, map it, learn and share experiences with other robot cars about locations, environments, circumstances etc. And problem avoidance.

Will computers replace programmers?

Now think about programming. It’s a rule based assembly of commands that takes input from and external sources and then makes decisions. So why can’t machines write code?Well they do already to some extent. And it will be commonplace in 10 to 20 years.

Take this article from Wired earlier this year that examines this very issue… Soon We Won’t Program Computers. We’ll Train Them Like Dogs

It argues that neural networks are already trainable. We don’t teach them to recognize a cat by defining, and whiskers and meowing…we just show the NN pictures of cats and the machines draw their own conclusions. The article explains: “If it keeps misclassifying foxes as cats, you don’t rewrite the code. You just keep coaching it.”

Borrowing from the article again…”Machine learning powers large swaths of our online activity…

And yes they are used by self driving cars. In Pittsburgh a human Uber employee in the vehicle doesn’t write code it babysits the vehicle in case of a problem. (See this article)

So you can expect human programmers to assist and babysit code writing machines – or train the machine, as Wired puts it. But eventually this will be a full automated process.

Can computers be creative programmers?

And you might argue what about creativity in code. Well yes, that’s the one thing machines have yet to become able to do. Be creative. And yet as AI develops there is a theory that creative will eventually become an outcome. As humans we create seemingly out of thin air drawing from a synthesis of inputs and developing ideas from correlations, experiences and problem solving.

Will code writing machines become creative? I would argue yes. But ask me again in 10 and then 20 years. 🙂

If you want to learn more  read my book Super You (available at and other fine booksellers) – and have a look at the chapter my co-authors and I wrote on the “human computer” and the rise of string AI and its impact on humans in the next few decades.

Where to buy Super You: How Technology is Revolutionizing What it Means to Be Human
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Published inArtificial intelligence (AI)