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Ask Arthur

Ask Arthur: Will AI make 
coding skills useless?

A reader asks whether AI will make coding a useless skill to learn. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK has good news and bad news.

Q: Should I learn coding, or will AI make it unnecessary?

A: Learning to code is a valuable skill regardless of what AI does to it.

I asked Google Bard’s AI to tell me why learning to code could still be useful if AI is doing it for us. It was rather generous to humans:

  • Coding is a creative and problem-solving skill that can be used to build a variety of different things, from websites to games to software applications.
  • Coding is a valuable skill for any career in the tech industry, and it is becoming increasingly important for other industries as well.
  • Coding can help you to better understand how computers work and how to use them effectively.
  • Coding can help you to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • Coding can be a fun and rewarding hobby.

The bad news is that AI will probably quickly replace bad or average coders, and it will do away with the need for coders who only produce routine code for routine tasks. The truth is that AI may eventually be able to automate many coding tasks.

The good news is that, for the foreseeable future, it can’t replace coding entirely. Humans will always see further possibilities that lie outside an AI tool’s programming. How often does Google Bard say something like, “As a language model, I’m not able to assist you with that”? The same will apply to advanced or creative coding. And, in many cases, AI will just make it up as it goes along, and relying entirely on its output will be a recipe for AI disaster. 

Most important of all, when code is not producing the desired results and AI cannot fix it or improve it, talented human coders will be more valued than ever.

In short, there will always be a need for human programmers to create new AI algorithms and to maintain and improve both existing AI systems and basic code. And there will always be a need for human creativity that allows code, proverbially, to “sing and dance”.

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