Source: V3 | Nicholas Fearn | December 6, 2017

Thought a career in computing would be a job for life? Think again, suggest Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers.

Coders and programmers are at risk of being marginalised by emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, with humans being chucked on the scrapheapt by 2040.

That is the warning from a team of researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. They have published an academic study about the role AI will play in software development by the second half of the 21st century.

The academics are certain that there will therefore be a shift from human coders to AI-driven coders by 2040.

The paper, Will humans even write code in 2040 and what would that mean for extreme heterogeneity in computing?, was written by Jay Jay Billings, Alexander McCaskey, Geoffroy Vallee and Greg Watson.

Programming, they argued, will soon undergo a transformation – and that much of the technology that will transform software development already exists or, at least, is in its early stages of development.

“The major technologies that will drive the creation and adoption of machine-generated code already exist, either at research institutions or in the marketplace,” they wrote.

While it may seem that AI will replace human coders, the researchers optimistically take the stance that it’ll actually help, or complement, them. “They may find that they spend more time using auto-complete and code recommendation features than writing new lines on their own,” suggest nthe academics.

One of the biggest challenges, though, is that there will be disparancies between hardware architectures and software requirements. And, as a result, the researchers expect systems to cater to this heterogeneity.

“Extreme heterogeneity, along with the rest of the computing world, will be required to move with the demands of usability and productivity in interesting ways,” wrote the researchers.

Companies looking to make use of autonomous coding technology needn’t worry, though. The scientists also explored research from Facebook that indicated that, in future, computers will be able to talk about and negotiate their own requirements.