In the past years, there was a lot of speculation about automation and how it will affect people’s jobs. In particular, I’ve seen many articles discussing whether AI can replace web developers or not. This is an interesting question but also a very complex one since it depends on what we mean with “replace” and in which aspects AI will be able to perform better than a human.
I don’t know if there are any recent studies on this subject but my intuition is that at least in the next decade it won’t have much effect. The reason is simple: Artificial Intelligence needs data in order to learn and make accurate predictions. For example, when we talk about a machine learning algorithm that is capable of learning the patterns inside a set of data, we need to think about this in terms of how much data will be needed for it to learn accurately and also what type of model can perform better with that specific dataset.
Another important aspect is quality assurance: I’ve personally worked on many projects where bugs are found using different testing tools and unit tests, but I’ve also seen plenty of cases where a bug is only fixed after it was found by actual users. For example, let’s consider this simple case: there are two web developers working on the same project and they both implement a feature in their own way, however, one of them has implemented it incorrectly. Even if we have a set of automated tests, the chances that all possible cases will be tested are pretty low.
I think this example is not that rare for web development since there are often many ways to implement a given feature and it’s quite common that two developers will behave differently in such situations. It may happen more rarely on projects which have very strict coding guidelines or where there are not many developers, but I’ve seen plenty of situations where those rules did not exist and all sorts of implementations were accepted.
In conclusion, I don’t think that AI will be able to replace web developers in the near future because it’s quite difficult for a machine-learning algorithm to understand how humans behave in real-life situations; however, I do believe there will be some improvements that can help us speed up the development process by automating repetitive tasks or suggesting better solutions based on what is already known.
As an example of this, consider coding standards: if we had a machine-learning algorithm that could analyse all code written by humans and then suggest the best coding standard for a given project, that would be a huge improvement. However, even if such an algorithm exists (I’m not sure if it does), the chances of it being able to analyse all possible code scenarios and suggestions are very low. As with most things in life, there is no silver bullet and we will need to continue using our intuition and experience to make the best decisions possible.