Adapting to AI: How Developers Can Future-Proof Their Careers

5 Jun 2024

Is Rust poised to replace Python? Should you bother with the classics like C++? And is JavaScript still ruling web development?

Debating the merits of programming languages is nothing new, however a new topic is fast emerging among developers of all levels of experience and ability: will developers still need to know how to code in the age of AI? And will coding experience still matter when looking for a job in the area?

On one hand you have tech leaders such as NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang who has stated that future generations won’t need to know how to code from scratch.

“It is our job to create computing technology such that nobody has to program, and that the programming language is human, everybody in the world is now a programmer,” he said at the World Government Summit in Dubai. “For the very first time you can imagine everybody in your company being a technologist.”

However, in the coding corner, you have Microsoft’s Reshmi Goff who recently compared AI to a “copilot” during a webinar hosted by Code Institute. “It is not a pilot,” he said. “It still requires human validation.”

The future of coding

So what does this really mean for those currently working within the field, and those who are hoping to make coding their career in the future? In a nutshell, continuous learning and adopting all the benefits AI presents to improve productivity is key.

In fact, a recent study from GitHub found that developers who started using its Copilot tools were able to complete tasks 55% faster when assisted by AI, improved perceived productivity by 88%, could make coding less frustrating (59%) and also allowed for more time to focus on more rewarding elements of the job (74%).

Something that is even more significant is that 96% were faster when it came to repetitive tasks, and 87% reported that Copilot made repetitive tasks less mentally taxing.

Transferring your skills

Another way to ward off the threat of AI is to adapt your skill set so that you can capitalize on the emergence of newly created roles.

Prompt engineering is a great example of this.

Responsible for training AI models, prompt engineers craft the precise and well-defined prompts that inform large language models and effectively facilitate the capabilities of chatbots to come up with answers—salaries in the U.S. start at $230,000 and go up to $335,000.

And while it’s always a good idea to be aware of change in your industry, this period of flux doesn’t necessarily spell the end of coding as a skill set. Nor does it mean developers won’t have plenty of career opportunities now, and into the future.

By Aoibhinn Mc Bride