Obligatory post about artificial intelligence

Josh Sherman
5 min read

Within the tech community, it seems like all we’re talking about these days is AI, ChatGPT, alternatives and such. Recently, I had the opportunity to hang out with somebody outside of the tech community and they actually brought up ChatGPT to me, and how they were leveraging it.

But also, they mentioned they saw this thing on Twitter about how this reputable source had gotten ChatGPT to go sentient and tech him how to replicate the code and, and, and we’re doomed.

Figured at this point it’s probably worth a post to brain dump my thoughts on the matter. Fair warning, some of these opinions will probably offend.

AI is going to take my job.

I hear this a lot, usually joking, but then there are folks that actually seem legitimately scared that their ability to generate income is now in jeopardy.

To every person that’s mentioned this to me, those of you that seem reluctant to even mess around with these new shiny toys we have, I have to agree, AI is going to take your job.

Not even because the technology is going to get so advanced that you’re now obsolete. No, you’ll be losing your job because the most sought after individuals will be leveraging the tools and technology to be leaps and bounds better than they would with it.

I remember how people used to talk about the 10x developer. With things like ChatGPT and AI coding assistants, I think we’re going to be talking about 100x developers soon.

This is an extinction event for junior developers.

Speaking of developers, the last time I was hiring a backend engineer, it became very apparent that the market is overflowing with newly minted, bootcamp-trained, “full stack” developers.

Fun fact: It’s easy to spot them, because they almost always use the same exact template for their CV. Also their job history looks more like a list of homework assignments than actual jobs, because it probably is.

Now that’s not to say that I’m against folks bettering themselves and/or changing careers, but the fact remains that junior developers add a lot of drag to a team.

Not every company or team is at a point where they can take on the drag of somebody that will more than likely consume more than they will generate in their fledgling state.

Not just that, but if the talent of engineers is raised exponentially, the gap between a reliable mid-level engineer and somebody just starting out is going to be even more vast than it is currently.

But if there’s no need for junior developers, how will people break into the industry?

Same way most of peers did it back in the day. We hacked around on the computer because we enjoyed it, not because we were trained up on it. We built things, we tinkered, and by the time we were entering the job market, we already had years of experience.

Pile on access to additional tools, I won’t be shocked when we have kids graduating high school and their first job is as a senior engineer.

But also, these tools shouldn’t be used by junior developers.

Back in my day, something something, coding in the snow, yadda yadda, but it built character.

Old man jokes aside, I believe that people need to learn how to code instead of just diving in and leveraging these tools. Depending on where you’re at in terms of your engineering career, AI can either level you up, or it can be a crutch that will keep you from learning.

In this emerging AI-reliant world, people still need to know how to do things. Shit happens, often, and only relying on these crutches will leave you quite debilitated when the AI is down, or hell, when the AI doesn’t actually know the answer to the question.

Do you think an AI knows how to debug a web server being offline at 4am, after it’s had a few too many beers? I’d say “maybe” but I actually just asked ChatGPT what I should do because my web server is down, and it just out a bunch of generic things to try.

Funny enough, it didn’t even list out the first two things I’d have checked. Am I able to ssh into the box, and is the web server even running?

It’s going to get worse before it gets better.

It’s the wild west right now. On top of the people that are fearful of new things, there are also a lot of disgusting folks out there that are leveraging AI and passing it off like it’s their own work.

I’m not even talking about asking ChatGPT to do an emotional analysis of Piggy from Lord of the Flies and cheating on homework. I’m talking about people attempting to pass of whole ideas as their own instead of acknowledging that they got a little help, to sing the praises of the technology.

While at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter, because let’s be honest, we all search the web when we don’t know something. At some point using AI will just be as ubiquitous as that, but until then, if we’re all going to level up as a society, we absolutely need to be selling the benefits, instead of hording it in a vain attempt to seem like the smartest person in the room.

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About Josh

Husband. Father. Pug dad. Musician. Founder of Holiday API, Head of Engineering and Emoji Specialist at Mailshake, and author of the best damn Lorem Ipsum Library for PHP.

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