Artificial intelligence is influencing numerous areas of life including finance, marketing, transport, healthcare and increasingly also software development. Especially the release of ChatGPT-3.5 in November 2022 had a huge impact on how software development can be automated with the help of AI. The revolutionary chatbot developed by OpenAI caused a massive hype as people all over the world were amazed at how human-like and intelligent the language model responses to different queries. The chatbot can write poems, lead conversations, answer complex questions, translate and can also write code in different programming languages, doing work only human developers could do in the past.
With AI rapidly changing working conditions, more and more developers are wondering what their future will look like. Will AI be able to do their work so that the human workforce will be redundant? How can ChatGPT be used to facilitate programming? What are its limitations? By answering these questions, this article will take a closer look at how AI is influencing the future of software development.
What is ChatGPT?
To start, let’s examine what ChatGPT actually is. It is a language model created by OpenAI, a research and deployment company whose mission is to benefit humanity through artificial intelligence. ChatGPT uses natural language processing (NLP) to respond to text-based queries in a human-like manner. NLP as part of artificial intelligence aims at teaching computers how to understand, interpret and manipulate human language.
ChatGPT was trained with a huge amount of text data from the internet using reinforcement learning and supervised learning approaches. It was built using a deep learning model called the Transformer enabling it to generate human-like text answers. ChatGPT can be used for a wide variety of applications, including language translation, content creation, coding or in chatbots for automated customer service.
How can ChatGPT be used to assist in software development?
Instead of perceiving ChatGPT as a job stealing threat to software developers you could also emphasize the many advantages AI can bring to the industry. ChatGPT has the potential to improve the productivity of developers by saving them a lot of time and effort. Especially when it comes to boilerplate code, routine tasks and highly standardized processes the language model can be a helpful assistant in the development cycle. Here are some ways how:
● Generating code: the language model understands your needs very well and can generate the right code snippets. This can be particularly helpful for beginners and can assist you in avoiding mistakes. ● Creating documentation: another very time-consuming task is the creation of proper code documentation. Also here is ChatGPT able to help by providing you with documentation explaining the code. ● Testing code: ChatGPT can write test cases for you to assist you in testing your code. You can even be very specific by telling the AI tool what exactly the code should be able to do (for example handle big data sets), so that it will create appropriate test inputs. ● Helping to fix bugs: another task which can cost a substantial amount of time is the identifying and fixing of bugs. ChatGPT can help you with that by analyzing code and recommending debugging strategies. ● Enhancing code: Through evaluation ChatGPT can suggest improvements, which will enhance the security, readability and efficiency of the code, therefore improving the performance. ● Digital research assistant: you can use ChatGPT as a search engine which gives you relevant and quick answers to your questions about programming languages and software development.
What are the limitations of ChatGPT?
Now given all these features does it seem likely that ChatGPT will completely replace software developers in the near future? The answer is a clear no. While the model can definitely be helpful, it has some limitations which make humans indispensable in the development of software. Here are some: ● ChatGPT does make mistakes and gives wrong answers sometimes, even when the explanations seem to be very convincing. Stackflow has even banned answers from ChatGPT already because they have been incorrect too often. That’s why it’s good to do some research before you blindly trust the model. ● It is biased. ChatGPT takes its knowledge from a huge but still limited amount of data of what people have written. ● Software developers do way more than “just” write code. Often they need to communicate with customers, find creative solutions to their problems, and implement those solutions in a way that everybody is satisfied. AI can in no way come up for the amount of knowledge, expertise and creativity an experienced software developer has to offer. ● ChatGPT will never be able to grasp the business context. So for example it won’t be able to assist you in coming up with a software or application that gives you competitive advantage.
What are the indications for the future of software development?
Even if AI models like ChatGPT will continue to improve their functionality, they can’t replace human developers. At least not in the near future. However, they do bring changes to the industry which can’t be ignored. As a software developer, it is essential to address these changes and understand what they will mean for your career. A useful approach would be to learn how to use tools like ChatGPT to assist you in the development cycle. AI has the potential to automate time-consuming, repetitive routine tasks and thereby enabling you to focus more on tasks computers can’t fulfill yet like creative thinking, communication, strategizing or problem-solving. As the rise of AI will increase the demand for certain skills like prompt engineering (writing model inputs to get the best possible results from chatbots), investing time in the acquisition of these can also be a very wise thing to do.