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Who let the robots out? We did it, and they’re coding for you

Coding is dead. Dead. At least coding as we know it.

Although we’ve been using Artificial Intelligence to automatically write and maintain code here at GeneXus since our early beginnings almost three decades ago, the world (for the most part) has not been quite ready to embrace the message about the power of automated software. But now, the time is ripe and enterprise companies around the world are ready to embrace the future. These are exciting times!

So take a few breaths and repeat with me… Robots are going to do the coding! All of those boring puts and gets — all of those time-consuming, repetitive tasks being done by humans today — are going to be automated by smart systems that will do it all better and faster than humans ever could.

In fact, it’s already being done. Companies like NTT Comware, Sabadell, and The Panama Channel are already using robots to code parts of their systems. True, this method isn’t mainstream yet, but it’s out there and it’s picking up steam fast: code made by an Artificial Intelligence, based on human requests, hundreds of millions of lines of code written every year, databases built, rebuilt and services connected over and over… by robots inside a computer.

Is it good code? Yes, it is. Is it the best code there can be? No, it’s not. We know there’s still a lot of room for improvements. But it is the right way forward and into the future: it does the job (it’s very effective), it’s cost effective, it’s incredibly efficient, and the resulting systems are very easy to maintain (this is also done by a robot!). And the natural evolution of technology is on our side — the coding quality will get even better, smarter, and faster, as time passes.

So what does this mean?

We let the robots out.

The fact is that we’ve been letting them out for almost 30 years — quietly waiting for our vision to become mainstream. We knew automation was going to become a reality in software development, like in every other industry. Yes, humans will continue to code, but in very specific niches. The advantages of automation, however, were painfully clear to us from the beginning. What wasn’t always clear was how and when businesses would invest in adopting a new, more efficient way of doing things.

Artificial Intelligence has changed and has only gotten better through the years. It’s no longer a fad. It’s the future. You can see examples everywhere, every day — from predictive analytics, to go-masters-beating machines, to API automatic generation, and the case of AI that creates AI. AI is everywhere.

The best example that proves we live in a new AI-age is the experience we had at SAPPHIRE, the gigantic, much-anticipated event by SAP (the global leader in enterprise solutions).

While there, we had the chance to test GeneXus messaging with attendees. In fact, we tested several taglines from our promotional materials explaining what we do including:

  • “Simplify Software Development”
  • “Develop Smarter”
  • “Software that makes Software”

As event attendees approached our booth and noticed the taglines, we took note of which ones resonated the most with them. “Software that makes Software,” though it is one of our older taglines, turned out to be the big winner.

There was one more tagline that people really liked and wanted to learn more about: “We use artificial intelligence to write and maintain code.”

We even had the chance to tackle Jürgen Müller, SAP’s Chief Innovation Officer, to get his feedback on our impromptu survey. He stayed primarily for the picture we took with him (see below), but his point was taken.

Gabriel Simonet, Jürgen Müller (SAP), Luis Murillo at SAP Sapphire Now

The tagline, “We use artificial intelligence to write and maintain code,” was the best conversation starter I ever used and, by the end of SAPPHIRE 2017, we gave more demos than we had ever done before at similar events.

The thing is… it’s the same line we’ve been using for years, but now people are listening. Even when the world wasn’t ready to embrace the message, we remained consistent, true to our mission, and stayed the course. As it turns out, we weren’t so crazy after all. We just had a vision that was ahead of its time.

Automation and Artificial Intelligence (Expert systems) will do the work of millions of developers. And that’s a good thing. What makes this even more exciting is that programmers are starting to realize that this does not mean that they’re going to be out of work. They’re just going to get the best help available to them, to do more stuff in the same amount of time. Or they’ll even do the same amount of work in less time and be able to focus on other things — deeper, more advanced, specific tasks that artificial intelligence can’t tackle such as research, design with intention, personalized customer engagement… or just to have more time to be with their family.

Therefore, we need to discuss the new, exciting roles we humans will have in the automated software industry. In fact, this will be the topic of a keynote I will be doing for the 27th GeneXus International Meeting in October: “The Human Element in the Age of Automation of Everything” (you are invited, by the way). If you can’t make it, you can also take a look at a great piece written by Gastón Milano, GeneXus Chief Technical and Innovation Officer: Mickey, Toy Story & GeneXus: Why Robots Will Transform Developers.

So take a deep breath and repeat with me… Robots are going to do the coding. Don’t let this change overwhelm you. It’s finally here to stay and it’s great for everyone, so don’t fight it. Accept it and pivot.

Talk to us. We can help you seize this opportunity.

Take control. Shape your future.

These are exciting times, indeed!

 

The Future of “code-writing software” and Its Effects On Business
Digital Transformation and the 4th World Change

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