Coding matters: A weird AI story

Weird AI story: person interviewing a cyborg

We know that AI is a game-changer. We don’t know how it will change the game. Nobody does.

The IEEE spectrum created a scorecard of what 22 top AI experts think about the threat posed by large language models. Are we getting close to an artificial general intelligence that will destroy civilization? There is no consensus. That makes me feel a little better about my own confusion.

Stop AI apologizing

I came across a humorous exchange of views on how to stop ChatGPT from apologizing. Personally, I like the fact that ChatGPT is so courteous. I hope a bit of that will rub off when politicians start using it to write their speeches.

One of the commentators had recently interviewed someone over video for a job. He realized the applicant was using ChatGPT to respond to the interview questions. There are phone apps that let you use your microphone to ask questions, instead of typing. The applicant was reading back the ChatGPT answers, including the apologies!

This is the weirdest AI story I’ve heard so far.

The future of programmers

Programmers, like the rest of the world, wonder how AI will affect their future. Once again, nobody knows. But this IEEE Spectrum article presents a balanced and thoughtful approach.

AI-based coding tools can help with code completion and increase productivity. But there is more to software engineering that just writing code. One of the most integral programming skills is problem solving.

That’s why it is still good for people to learn to code. Sure, AI tools solve the typical coding problems set for students faster and better. But it’s not about the answer. It’s about developing problem-solving skills and the ability to reason about code.

No pain, no gain

Unfortunately, the process of developing those skills is painful. Years ago I had a young man on the Introduction to Programming course. He had grand plans to become a C++ programmer and hack satellites. (Honestly, that’s what he said.) But he wasn’t even willing to try the first simple exercise on his own. He wanted to google the answer.

This is the flaw in our thinking. We focus on the destination, not the journey. We want results, preferably with as little effort as possible. “No pain, no gain” isn’t just an exercise motto.

Do you have a weird AI story to share? Have you tried using AI tools for your coding? I’d love to hear your opinion.ta

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