When software programmers become redundant

18 February 2015
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Technology-driven jobs are the ultimate frontier of human labour where machines have no place.

This indeed seems hard to contest. Software programmers will still be required to program all of this wonderful artificial intelligence that is going to significantly impact all other jobs right?

Wrong…

Software today is as faulty as one doesn’t want to imagine and that is why self-modifying code was invented. Yes, this is software code that modifies itself automatically. Today, the main functionality is usually aimed to improve performance and to reduce the size of the code-base in order to make it easier to maintain.

Obviously, that is still a far stretch away from computer programs programming additional functionality with minimal or even without intervention of a human being.

Artificial intelligence – still an infant

Code that functionally creates itself needs to be driven by smart machinery, i.e. artificial intelligence. Today, that is still part of the future but as with many exponential changes, the curve of advancement is starting to become steeper by the day.

A major milestone crossed in 2014 was a machine passing the Turing Test. This test, developed by one of the grand fathers of computer science, Alan Turing, states that a machine passes the test in a written conversation, if it is able to deceive another human being to believe the machine is in fact another human. Back in 2014, the computer fooled several judges – all sensible adults – that the machine was in fact a 13-year-old boy.

What about the programming, you may ask?

The initial seeds of this evolution are already present. Google recently acquired DeepMind Technologies, aiming to build a brain-like computer. Today, technology has already successfully executed machine learning tests which created a code output.

A program automatically outputting the simple and beautiful phrase, “Hello World” is also here. Take a look if you want to see how it is done in more detail.

The final frontier

Machines automatically creating other machines, software automatically creating other software; these are two of the ultimate barriers we are pushing against. For now, software programmers only have to worry for the rapid shifts in programming languages that makes knowledge of today, obsolete tomorrow. However, in the long run, there is a real chance that these priests of technology will also become replaceable.


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Categories:   Our economy today
Bruno Delepierre

Societal entrepreneur who wants to contribute to our quality of life. Married to Soetkin, dad of Jacqueline. General coordinator at Happonomy.

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