Will deep understanding still be valuable?

submited by
Style Pass
2023-05-24 07:30:03

This morning GitHub made a big announcement: Introducing GitHub Copilot: your AI pair programmer. Everybody's talking about it. And for good reason -- it looks really cool.

But my own reactions are mixed. I admire the accomplishment, and I am eager to try it, but I am also troubled by the apparent trend.

This blog entry is my attempt to write about that. As I begin, I hope the paragraphs below favor questions over judgments. I hope to express my feelings and perspectives without being critical of others. I hope to write something that is not just another "get off my lawn" rant. Let's see if I succeed.

In short: It looks to me like AI-assisted software development is just getting started, and will probably become a very big thing. And, it feels to me like yet another step toward shallow understanding in our field.

In my nearly 4 decades of writing code, I have consistently found that the most valuable thing is to know how things work. Nothing in software development is more effective than the ability to see deeper. To borrow Joel Spolsky's terminology, I claim that almost all abstractions are leakier than you think, so it is valuable to see through them.

Leave a Comment