NYT: It’s the End of Computer Programming As We Know It


Long-time Slashdot theodp writes: Writing for the masses in It’s the End of Computer Programming as We Know It. (And I Feel Fine.), NY Times opinion columnist Farhad Manjoo explains that while A.I. might not spell the end of programming (“the world will still need people with advanced coding skills”), it could mark the beginning of a new kind of programming — “one that doesn’t require us to learn code but instead transforms human-language instructions into software.”

“Wasn’t coding supposed to be one of the can’t-miss careers of the digital age?,” Manjoo asks. “In the decades since I puttered around with my [ZX] Spectrum, computer programming grew from a nerdy hobby into a vocational near-imperative, the one skill to acquire to survive technological dislocation, no matter how absurd or callous-sounding the advice. Joe Biden told coal miners: Learn to code! Twitter trolls told laid-off journalists: Learn to code! Tim Cook told French kids: Apprenez à programmer! Programming might still be a worthwhile skill to learn, if only as an intellectual exercise, but it would have been silly to think of it as an endeavor insulated from the very automation it was enabling. Over much of the history of computing, coding has been on a path toward increasing simplicity.”

In closing, Manjoo notes that A.I. has alleviated one of his worries (one shared by President Obama). “I’ve tried to introduce my two kids to programming the way my dad did for me, but both found it a snooze. Their disinterest in coding has been one of my disappointments as a father, not to mention a source of anxiety that they could be out of step with the future. (I live in Silicon Valley, where kids seem to learn to code before they learn to read.) But now I’m a bit less worried. By the time they’re looking for careers, coding might be as antiquated as my first PC.”

Btw, there are lots of comments — 700+ and counting — on Manjoo’s column from programming types and others on whether reports of programming’s death are greatly exaggerated.