Artificial Intelligence (AI) is nothing new in the world of Software Development. Although with the latest release of ChatGPT, there have been tidal waves made across the tech industry. ChatGPT is an AI chatbot with the ability to replicate text that is almost indistinguishable from that written by a human - emphasis on the word almost here. Ask it for a summary of Wuthering Heights, to translate your French homework or write an original story, and lo and behold, ChatGPT will deliver. But what can it do for Software Developers, and is it really as useful as we may think?
Having been trained using an immense amount of existing online data, ChatGPT is able to reproduce a wide repertoire of programming languages, meaning it has the ability to create computer code. This means it can write programmes for web pages, apps and games. In many cases, if code is free from errors and functions as it should, then that is enough for it to be released to the end user. So, does that mean AI could completely replace the role of a Software Developer? Not exactly.
In recent years, the pressing demand for Software Developers has continued to grow across the UK, as businesses struggle to fill positions and hire candidates with the necessary skills. Despite AI’s advanced capabilities, it is unlikely that it will take over the role of a Software Developer in the foreseeable future, even if such demand continues. Instead, we are likely to see AI transform the role of the Software Developer, aiding professionals with their day-to-day tasks and enabling less tech-savvy individuals to get involved, rather than replacing humans.
Let’s explore the benefits and drawbacks of AI in Software Development, and the impact it is likely to have on the job market and industry as a whole.
What’s in this article?
- 5 Benefits of AI in Software Development
- 5 Limitations of using AI in Software Development
- Best AI coding assistants
- How will AI change the role of a Software Developer?
|Benefits of AI in Software Development||Limitations of AI in Software Development|
|Support Project Management||Algorithmic bias|
|Improve debugging process||Black box model|
|Streamline Software Testing||Data learning inaccuracies|
|Strengthen software security||Lack of creativity|
|Make coding more accessible||High costs|
5 Benefits of AI in Software Development
There are numerous benefits of AI for coding and Software Development, and it can prove useful across the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC).
1. Support Project Managers
AI chatbots can be a powerful tool for Project Managers, helping them improve their planning and reporting processes. They can be used to streamline resource allocation, provide accurate budget calculations, produce risk models, and much more.
2. Improve the debugging process
AI can also prove extremely useful to Developers when it comes to improving debugging processes. There are a number of ways AI can be used for identifying bugs and improving the overall quality of products. Firstly, AI can be programmed to follow rule-based systems, so it is able to look for common coding mistakes, such as null pointer dereferences or array out-of-bounds errors. Likewise, AI can recognise patterns in code that have historically led to bugs, or that might indicate the presence of bugs. Yet, it is important to note that AI can still produce false positives, and may require additional human oversight for bug detection.
3. Streamline software testing
Software testing can be a time-consuming process that is significantly prone to human error. As such, AI tools can be a Tester’s best friend, helping eliminate time-consuming tasks and ensuring a higher-quality product with limited errors. As discussed above, AI is great for detecting irregularities in data, therefore, it can monitor the test runs and identify any issues that arise.
When it comes to testing, software needs to be trialled under various conditions and scenarios. AI is useful for generating test data to assess software under as many realistic conditions as possible, and that may be missed by a human Tester. It can also be used for test prioritisation, indicating which programmes are more likely to contain bugs and should be run first.
4. Strengthen software security
Software security is crucial for businesses in order to protect it from malware attacks, which could compromise software availability and integrity. There are a variety of ways AI can help strengthen software security, starting with detection. AI algorithms can detect patterns of malicious behaviour in large data sets, and respond to these threats in real-time, or flag suspicious activity to security teams.
Likewise, AI is beneficial for the prevention of software security breaches, by scanning code for potential vulnerabilities and providing appropriate recommendations to fix these. This enables Developers to identify and address security weaknesses before they become a threat.
5. Make coding more accessible
Overall, AI can help computer programming become more accessible to ‘non-techies’, enabling someone with limited programming skills to build computer programmes and applications. Making code more accessible to a wider variety of professionals has also been further accelerated by the rise of low-code and no-code platforms., which also require little to no coding skills.
5 Limitations of using AI in Software Development
Although AI tools have many benefits for Software Development, they do not come without drawbacks. Here are five limitations of using AI in Software Development:
1. Algorithmic bias
Algorithmic bias can significantly impact the results of AI chatbots, which can potentially lead to inaccurate or biased responses. For instance, AI chatbots rely on existing data to learn and understand natural language, so if this initial data is biased, the chatbot will learn to perpetuate these biases too. In the same way, AI chatbots rely on human interaction, instruction and feedback, so if these are also biased, its responses will be as well.
2. Black box model
The ‘black box’ nature of AI leads us to question the reliability of its outputs since we cannot see the internal workings of how it produced its responses. AI black box is particularly problematic in certain industries where the impact of false responses has a greater impact, such as in finance, healthcare and judicial environments.
3. Data learning inaccuracies
As discussed briefly, the data training process is critical to determining the effectiveness of AI chatbots. Much like how biased training data can cause skewed responses, inaccurate data learning can result in false responses. Likewise, a lack of regular training for the AI tool can lead to dated outputs, which are therefore also inaccurate.
4. Lack of creativity
To say AI is not creative would not be entirely true, however, its creativity is based on existing ideas. As such, there is a lack of creativity that comes with relying solely on AI, since AI uses existing data rather than thinking outside the box like a human can. AI is best for repeated tasks, rather than innovation.
So, when it comes to coming up with a unique idea for the next best gaming app or innovative banking solution that no one else has done before, AI may not be the best option. However, it can be used as a prompt to get your own creative juices flowing and expand upon your own, original ideas.
5. High costs
There can be large costs associated with implementing and using AI chatbots, as well as other AI programmes. This includes costs for development, training and data, integration, hosting and maintenance. Overall, the cost of implementing and maintaining AI infrastructure will vary widely depending on its complexity, and the specific needs of the individual or organisation using it.
For personal use, there are a variety of AI chatbots that are freely available, such as ChatGPT, yet would not be suitable for businesses.
Best AI coding assistants
As you can see, AI certainly has its place in the future of Software Development. AI coding assistants will be especially useful in supporting Software Developers. An AI coding assistant is designed especially for this purpose, helping to reduce the amount of time spent writing code, using autocomplete functionalities, and providing quick feedback to reduce the number of errors. Here’s a list of the top AI coding assistants to try this year - some of which are free!
How will AI change the role of a Software Developer?
It’s time that we address the concerns around Artificial Intelligence taking over the role of a Software Developer. In short, AI is unlikely to replace the role of a Software Developer in the near future, and could actually play a part in the creation of new job opportunities in the field.
According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report, emerging technologies are estimated to generate 133 million new jobs in place of the 75 million that will be displaced as a result of this new tech. In total, this amounts to a net gain of 58 million more jobs available in sectors, such as Big Data analytics, Cloud Computing and Artificial Intelligence.
With the creation of new jobs, Software Developers will be required to upskill themselves to stay relevant in the job market. Many will be required to update their current skill sets to meet changing demands of Artificial Intelligence. For instance, the rise of AI has brought with it a greater emphasis on data analysis and management, which means they are now important skills for a Software professional too. New job roles in AI that require Software Development skills include Machine Learning Engineer, Data Scientist, AI Software Developer and Natural Language Processing (NLP) Engineer - to name a few.
Moreover, it is likely that AI will begin transforming the way Software Developers carry out daily tasks in existing roles - if it hasn’t already. Constant advancements in AI technology have given Developers access to new tools, such as machine learning libraries and assistants, that enable them to automate tasks and reduce the amount of time spent on repetitive tasks. As a result, Software Developers will be able to move away from these monotonous tasks and focus their efforts on higher-level tasks.
On the whole, it is likely that we will see Software Developers and AI working hand-in-hand to improve efficiency, while still keeping human creativity and innovation.
“AI as it exists and is looking to evolve right now, is going to be a fantastic productivity tool that allows human experts to be more efficient and use their time more effectively. I do not see AI meaningfully changing the skills that a Software Developer will need, although it will likely provide more opportunities for people to begin learning these skills, as it is integrated into online learning platforms. The job market will likely remain largely unchanged for the foreseeable future, and any impact which it does have will only be felt many years from now, in a way which is currently very difficult to predict.”Jonathan Withnall, Senior Technical Consultant at FDM Group
With such high demand for experts in Artificial Intelligence and Software Development, now is the time to brush up on your skills and get involved. At FDM, our Software Development career programme is designed to give you the training you need to kickstart your career and land your dream job, without previous experience.
If you’re interested in starting a career in Software Development, check out the FDM Software Development Programme for more information or get in touch.