Developers fear being replaced by robots

Robby the Robot - Wikimedia CommonsA survey of 550 software developers by Evans Data has found that the biggest thing that keeps them awake at night is being replaced by AI.

Nearly a third said that this was the most worrisome thing in their careers – even more than the second-most identified worry, which was that the platform the developer is working on will become obsolete (23 per cent), or doesn’t catch on (14 per cent).

Concerns about A.I. replacing software developers has academic support. A study by Oxford University, The Future of Employment, warned that the work of software engineers may soon become computerised. Machine learning advances allow design choices that can be optimised by algorithms.

These systems can also detect bugs “with a reliability that humans are unlikely to match,” the study said.

The Oxford researchers, Michael Osborne, of Oxford’s Department of Engineering Science, and Carl Benedikt Frey said that big databases of code also offer the eventual prospect of algorithms that learn how to write programs to satisfy specifications provided by a human.

Janel Garvin, CEO of Evans Data, the thought of obsolescence due to A.I., “was also more threatening than becoming old without a pension, being stifled at work by bad management, or by seeing their skills and tools become irrelevant.”

Concerns about A.I. shouldn’t discourage people from becoming developers, “but it does provide a good case for developers to keep on top of the latest development practices,” he said.