AI-Powered Coding Tools Are Here to Help—Not Harm—Your Job, Insist IT Experts
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AI-Powered Coding Tools Are Here to Help—Not Harm—Your Job, Insist IT Experts

Even as code development tools get more sophisticated, thanks to generative AI, vendors and other tech pros say nothing replaces the human touch

By ANGUS LOTEN
Mon, Jul 3, 2023 9:28amGrey Clock 3 min

Generative artificial intelligence tools designed to automate the process of writing computer code are unlikely to offset a shortage of software engineers—let alone put them out of a job, enterprise-technology leaders said.

Demand for software engineers, developers and programmers has long outpaced supply. In recent months, generative AI has given chief information officers and other corporate IT managers the ability to automate some tasks in the software-engineering life cycle, said Rafee Tarafdar, chief technology officer at Infosys, a business consulting, information technology and outsourcing services firm.

But AI tools aren’t yet sophisticated enough to build working business apps, Tarafdar said. While certain tasks may become outdated as AI-powered coding assistants take them over, “skilled coders will be needed to oversee generated code and documentation,” among other roles, he said.

Tarafdar said he is currently training the company’s engineers and developers to use automated coding tools, including Infosys’ internally built AI coding assistant.

Sparked in part by the popularity of OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot, released in November, veteran business software companies, as well as a growing number of tech startups, have been rolling out software applications over the past few months that leverage generative AI technology to write blocks of code from scratch. Trained on massive amounts of data, generative AI tools are designed to produce text, images and code based on users’ natural-language prompts.

Generative AI sales are expected to reach $3.7 billion this year, expanding by an annual growth rate of 58% to an estimated $36 billion by 2028, according to market researcher S&P Global Market Intelligence. Tools designed to generate code are the fastest-growing category, said S&P managing analyst Nick Patience. That growth reflects a dearth of software engineers, which can hinder business growth, Patience said.

Until recently, low- and no-code software development platforms, which are designed to require minimal input to develop apps, were among the few ways employers could bridge that gap, said Jithin Bhasker, a general manager and vice president at a cloud-based enterprise software firm ServiceNow. “Generative AI will empower every employee to build and deploy automation at scale,” he said.

Despite growing interest for the tools among companies across industries, it is still early days for adoption, with many use cases still in pilot. CIOs have voiced concern that tools designed to lower the bar for code creation could lead to increased technical debt and orphan code. Technical debt refers to imperfect technology deployed to meet immediate needs with the knowledge that its imperfections will require redress in the future.

Still, tech companies are moving fast to capture a share of the market. Databricks, a data-storage and management vendor, on Wednesday released a generative AI tool designed to enable employees to use natural-language prompts, rather than code, to mine a company’s data for business insights—handling a task typically left to data scientists and programmers.

But it isn’t meant to replace them outright, said Databricks Chief Executive Ali Ghodsi. By handling code, the tool allows developers to focus on more innovative, proactive projects, while employees outside of tech hubs still have access to business data without the need for special training or coding skills, Ghodsi said.

Similarly, an AI-powered coding assistant launched in March by software firm Sourcegraph is designed to answer users’ technical questions, fix bugs in existing code and generate new code. It is meant to enhance the work of engineers and developers, said CEO Quinn Slack, adding that developers will be freed up to perform higher-level projects, rather than get bogged down by endless lines of basic code.

Thomas Dohmke, CEO of Microsoft-owned coding-collaboration platform GitHub, said that more than 20,000 organisations are currently using GitHub Copilot, a code-generating tool created in partnership with OpenAI and launched last year. In March, GitHub released a ChatGPT-like version of the tool, designed to enable users to interact with the tool through natural-language prompts.

Dohmke said companies are using the new tool for everything from explaining blocks of code to proposing fixes for bugs. “Technology that is not sentient cannot replace human creativity, it can only help deliver it,” Dohmke said. “Right now, AI is really just a probability machine, a co-pilot that is symbiotically dependent on its human pilot to build the world’s software.”

Vlad Magdalin, co-founder and CEO at Webflow, which sells cloud-based software for building and hosting websites, said he has embraced the new automated coding tools. Speaking this week at Collision, a technology conference in Toronto, Magdalin said simplifying the task of writing code saves time and raises expectations of productivity for developers. “It doesn’t mean that a developer is working 30 hours fewer,” he said.

“It’s not a magical tool that removes the need for a human,” Magdalin said.



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The Great Wealth Transfer: How rich millennials will invest the billions coming their way

The younger generation will bring a different mindset to how and where their newfound wealth is invested

By Bronwyn Allen
Fri, Mar 1, 2024 2 min

There is an enormous global wealth transfer in its beginning stages, whereby one of the largest generations in history – the baby boomers – will pass on their wealth to their millennial children. Knight Frank’s global research report, The Wealth Report 2024, estimates the wealth transfer set to take place over the next two decades in the United States alone will amount to US$90 trillion.

But it’s not just the size of the wealth transfer that is significant. It will also deliver billions of dollars in private capital into the hands of investors with a very different mindset.

Seismic change

Wealth managers say the young and rich have a higher social and environmental consciousness than older generations. After growing up in a world where economic inequality is rife and climate change has caused massive environmental damage, they are seeing their inherited wealth as a means of doing good.

Ben Whattam, co-founder of the Modern Affluence Exchange, describes it as a “seismic change”.

“Since World War II, Western economies have been driven by an overt focus on economic prosperity,” he says. “This has come at the expense of environmental prosperity and has arguably imposed social costs. The next generation is poised to inherit huge sums, and all the research we have commissioned confirms that they value societal and environmental wellbeing alongside economic gain and are unlikely to continue the relentless pursuit of growth at all costs.”

Investing with purpose

Mr Whattam said 66% of millennials wanted to invest with a purpose compared to 49% of Gen Xers. “Climate change is the number one concern for Gen Z and whether they’re rich or just affluent, they see it as their generational responsibility to fix what has been broken by their elders.”

Mike Pickett, director of Cazenove Capital, said millennial investors were less inclined to let a wealth manager make all the decisions.

“Overall, … there is a sense of the next generation wanting to be involved and engaged in the process of how their wealth is managed – for a firm to invest their money with them instead of for them,” he said.

Mr Pickett said another significant difference between millennials and older clients was their view on residential property investment. While property has generated immense wealth for baby boomers, particularly in Australia, younger investors did not necessarily see it as the best path.

“In particular, the low interest rate environment and impressive growth in house prices of the past 15 years is unlikely to be repeated in the next 15,” he said. “I also think there is some evidence that Gen Z may be happier to rent property or lease assets such as cars, and to adopt subscription-led lifestyles.”

Impact investing is a rising trend around the world, with more young entrepreneurs and activist investors proactively campaigning for change in the older companies they are invested in. Millennials are taking note of Gen X examples of entrepreneurs trying to force change. In 2022,  Australian billionaire tech mogul and major AGL shareholder, Mike Cannon-Brookes tried to buy the company so he could shut down its coal operations and turn it into a renewable energy giant. He described his takeover bid as “the world’s biggest decarbonisation project”.

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