Culture

Human developers will be ousted by their own creations by 2040

By Oliver Smith 6 December 2017
Image: Getty/master1305.
Summary

Thought your job was safe? Think again.

First developers created AI and automation which stole jobs, now these same coders are at risk of losing their own jobs to machines.

In fact, researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the US say that within 20 years developers themselves will be ousted by their own creations.

“The combination of machine learning, artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and code generation technologies will improve in such a way that machines, instead of humans, will write most of their own code by 2040,” they write.

Rise of the machine

We already know millions of jobs are under threat from automation, a third of UK jobs alone are already in the firing line in the next few years.

It had been thought developers would be spared, due to the complexities of the role and the creativity needed to think of solutions to difficult coding problems.

But the rise of the machines takes no prisoners.

Researchers point to machine learning, where a computer can start from scratch and code itself to become the greatest Go player in the world, as the fact that has changed everything.

Because of this, in just a decade or two, they believe ‘coding’ for humans will instead be led by a computer which can autocomplete what they’re trying to do and recommend the code that should be used.

“Machine Generated Code may be as common as artificial intelligence in devices today or self-driving cars in the next couple of years,” they write.

A nasty wake-up call for anyone thinking they can ‘future-proof’ their career by learning to code.

Coding hope

At the same time, automation is a slow process, and while some jobs do ‘disappear’ most will simply adapt and change.

The advent of personal computers, smartphones, the internet and email has made office workers hundreds of times more efficient than just 50 years ago – and freed up their time to often be more entrepreneurial and creative.

“People are extremely afraid that robots are going to take all our jobs,” Isabelle Ringnes, the co-founder of Norway’s Technology Network for Women, told The Memo earlier this year.

“But at the same time you see that around a third of the jobs in the US years ago didn’t exist 25 years ago, and it’s predicted that 65% of children in school today aren’t gonna be working in fields that exist today.”

So, it’s not all doom and gloom.