ChatGPT, the advanced language model developed by OpenAI, has gained significant attention for its ability to generate human-like text with high accuracy. The model is trained on massive amounts of natural language text that it parses to create responses to user prompts.
With each major leap in AI technology, discussions about human obsolescence are bound to resurface. ChatGPT is no exception, and this time, it’s software developers who are left wondering whether or not they might be replaced by artificial intelligence.
So, should developers be worried about ChatGPT? Should they get ready for a career change?
The answer is NO, ChatGPT will not replace software developers in the immediate future. This is why:
To better understand this issue, let’s discuss:
- What ChatGPT can do
- How ChatGPT works
- What human software developers do
- An expert’s take
- How ChatGPT Can be Used
- Our conclusion
What ChatGPT can do:
- Answer questions.
- Write fiction and non-fiction content from prompts.
- Produce human-like chatbot responses.
- Generate computer code.
- Translate text to different languages.
- Complete calculations.
- Summarize provided text.
- Generate text that summarizes data in tables and spreadsheets.
How ChatGPT Works:
Input: ChatGPT receives a prompt or a natural language input.
Embed: The input text is turned into numerical representations, called embeddings, which are used as inputs in the natural language model.
Encode: The encoder element of the model processes the embeddings and creates a hidden representation that summarizes the inputs.
Contextualize: Then, ChatGPT’s attention mechanism allows it to selectively focus on certain parts of the input and generate representations that take the input’s context into account.
Decode: The decoder part of the model then uses the hidden representation and the attention mechanism to create a response.
Output: The output from the decoder is turned back into text, and that text is returned to the user as the final written output.
What Developers Do:
Use Creativity: Software development is a creative process that undoubtedly requires a human touch. While ChatGPT can generate natural language text, it lacks the ability to think outside the box and come up with original ideas. At this point in time, ChatGPT is simply unable to make the leaps that human intuition and creativity can.
Problem Solve: Software development entails identifying and solving complex problems. While ChatGPT can assist developers in solving problems, it cannot do so on its own as the code it generates typically requires refinement and some untangling. Human developers possess the critical thinking skills to approach a problem from many angles and find the best solution, while ChatGPT lacks this advanced functionality.
Understanding User Needs: Software developers understand their fellow humans’ needs. They understand how people think, interact, and problem-solve. This makes their code human-centric and more accessible. ChatGPT can not make informed decisions about what users actually need and want. This is an important aspect of development that AI models can’t replicate.
Debugging and Troubleshooting: Debugging and troubleshooting are critical skills that software developers constantly use. ChatGPT can generate code, and it can even assist with simple debugging and troubleshooting. However, it lacks the ability to identify and solve highly complex problems on its own.
Using Interpersonal Skills: Software development is a team-based process that requires strong interpersonal skills like collaboration and communication. ChatGPT is unable to communicate broader concepts or problems to developers regarding the code it generates, which inhibits its ability to truly participate in the development process independent of human interpretation.
An Expert’s Take:
We asked one of our Sofware Development Managers, Liz Couture, to weigh in on this issue (Liz is an AI/ML/NLU expert).
“ChatGPT isn't in a state where a person who isn't educated in software development can ask it for a piece of software and it spits out perfection every time. It generally requires developers to check its work, troubleshoot it, understand what it's doing, and integrate it with existing software. Until ChatGPT reaches a point where somebody could write "make me an app that does this" and it spits out a fully formed functional piece of software, it won't replace developers. Rather, it will be a tool that aids developers. Developers already have a number of tools at their disposal to analyze, improve, and eliminate dangerous complexity and bugs from their code. ChatGPT and similar systems will probably become another one of these tools, enabling existing developers to be more productive, and allowing them to create better and more complex pieces of software.”
How ChatGPT Can be Used:
ChatGPT is not yet advanced enough to replace developers on its own. However, developers, being as resourceful as they are, have already taken to using ChatGPT for simple prototyping, debugging, troubleshooting, comment generation, and other tasks. Any developer can fire up ChatGPT and ask it to produce code from specific prompts. While the results aren’t always perfect, the code can still help accelerate the development process by lightening the amount of legwork typically needed.
ChatGPT and other AI models will not likely replace developers in the near future. As far as AI has advanced, it still falls short of replicating those invaluable human skills: creativity, problem-solving, interpersonal communication, and more. These skills will keep software developers in high demand for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, ChatGPT and other AI models may assist developers by helping hash out new ideas or frameworks that are then refined by developers.
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