Recently Nature (of all publications) asked the clickbait-y question:
Are ChatGPT and AlphaCode going to replace programmers? It then quickly states: “OpenAI and DeepMind systems can now produce meaningful lines of code, but software engineers shouldn’t switch careers quite yet.” Then why even ask the question? It goes on to say: Deepmind, a part of Google, “published its results in Science, showing that AlphaCode beat about half of humans at code competitions”.
Regardless of what you think about that article in Nature, here’s the thing to always keep in mind: technology X has been coming along to replace programmers forever. We had machine code that was replaced with assembler language. We had Assembler language replaced with higher level languages like Fortran. We had a wealth of more sophisticated programming languages come on to the scene. In addition, programming tools like IDEs have come along to save the day and make programming easier for programmers. Yet we still have not lost the need for programmers to write programs.
Programming is still about taking what people want the computer to do and codifying it in a language that the computer understands. In other words: programming. As long as that code is required for computers to do what humans want, there will always be programmers.
Here’s another thing to consider: code is a more efficient way to communicate to a computer. I can write in English “count all the entries in this column from row 2 to 100 if the entry equals the word ‘arts'” or I can write in (Excel) code “=countif(A2:A100,”arts”)”. That efficiency will likely mean that coding will be around for quite some time yet. And people doing that coding will be programming, even if they don’t consider themselves programmers.
So no, Alphacode is not going to replace programmers and programming. It might replace some of the task of what some of them currently do. But programmers and programming will be around for some time to come.
(I like the image above because it captures how the software design and development process is a complex thing, and not just a matter of writing a bunch of code. A lot of thought goes into developing something like a smart phone application, and that thought results in code that results in a good app.)
Well, I didn’t expect this week to be “what I find interesting in IT Week” , but here we are! I hope you have found it all useful. While the other posts were specific, these are of a general nature. From weird cool stuff to mainframes to iphones to architecture. Dig in!
IT Architecture: Here’s some tools you IT architects can use:
Cloud: some cloud related stuff:
Programming: here’s some things software and hardware folks might find interesting:
Finally: here’s some links that need to be seen without falling into a particular category:
A friend asked me for some help when it comes to learning Python. I put together this list for him, but it’s good for anyone wanting to learn the computer language.
- Why Learn Python
- Automate the boring stuff with python. A great book!
- Learn python in 24 hours. Another book. Also great.
- Learn python in 10 minutes
- Good doc on python
- Learn Python the hard way
- How to make a web app using Flask and Python
- How to build a twitter app in python
- Become a More Efficient Python Programmer
There are so many great resources on the Internet concerning Python. I could easily triple the size of this list. Start with these: you’ll find the rest soon enough.
(Image from Free Code Camp, which also has good links worth reviewing.)
The best programming languages to learn in 2022, according to TechRepublic are these:
If you wanted to step up from small pieces of code, you could get a book like this and write all sorts of useful code.
(That’s a great book, by the way.)
However there is a very wide spectrum for programming, and some people are very advanced in the form of programming they do. That should also be acknowledged. The work I do automating tasks by writing Python scripts is very different than the work done by people writing operating systems or other difficult tasks.
I like to think of it like running. If you run, you are a runner. End of story. If you work at running, you can enter a big race like the New York City Marathon and you will be with a range of runners from the very best in the world to people who will finish many hours later. The first and the last are all marathon runners, and the last are as real a runner as the first.
Same with programming. If you program, you are a programmer. You are as real a programmer as the person writing new code for the Linux operating system. Just like you can always get better as a runner, you can always get better as a programmer. It just depends on what you want to put into it and what you want to get out of it.
If you are a software developer or someone working in IT, you need to consider having more than a good resume or CV. You should consider having:
- an up to date profile in LinkedIn
- a professional web site (at least a one pager). It could be a blog, or an about.me page…something that provides information about yourself in a summary form.
- some repositories on github showing your work or an example of what you can do.
If you use github.io to host your professional web site, you get to cross off #2 and #3 with one effort.
I was reminded of this when I went to check out this page: DevProgress Tech Volunteer Questionnaire. You can see them asking for this information. It makes sense: if you are looking to hire a developer, it would be great to see not just what people are saying about them on LinkedIn, but what their code looks like too.
For some employees, putting code on github may not be an option. In that case focus on the first two and have a page somewhere on the web that discusses why you can’t host code there.
Posted in advice, IT
Tagged advice, careers, cv, github, IT, Jobs, LinkedIn, programming, resume, software
If you were wondering why Python programs often have this: `if __name__ == “__main__”:` and then a call to a function, a good explanation is here.
In short, if your program is used as input to other programs, then you want to have that snippet of code in them. If your programs are standalone, you can get by without it.
It depends on a number of factors, but if you want to decide solely on popularity, then you need to see this: The Most Popular Programming Languages of 2015 | ProgrammableWeb.
At the top you have some consistency, with Java at the top, and C, C++ and C# in the top five. Python, a language that I am becoming fond of and using to replace Perl, is up there at #4.
What is interesting, and not shown, are new and up and coming languages, such as Swift. I expect that to inch into the top 10 in the next few years.
If you want to focus on learning a programming language, and you have no other criteria, pick something from this list.
Node.js is a hot topic and technology. If you want to see some good tutorials on it to help you learn, I recommend this, from developerWorks: Learn node.js development from these top Bluemix guides.
As one of my areas of skill development this year, I am teaching myself Python (the programming language). I had a number of different sites offering help with it, but I have found these three the most useful, so far. I have found each of them useful, but I have spent the most time on “medium”. If you are interested in learning Python, I recommend you check these out:
Fast: Tutorial – Learn Python in 10 minutes – Stavros’ Stuff. Great as a cheatsheet or a quick intro to Python or if you used to do work with Python but haven’t done it in awhile.
Medium:the Python Tutorial from python.org. If you know other programming languages, this is a good starting point.
Slow: Learn Python the Hard Way. Good if you don’t know much about programming and want to make Python the first language you know really well.
It’s likely not you. As this piece argues, Learnable Programming, there are limits to the approaches that online sites have which many can get by, but some cannot. If you are in the latter group, give this piece a read. Afterwards you might think: aha! That’s why I couldn’t get it!
With technology, if you don’t understand something, don’t assume the problem lies with you. It may, but most of the time, the problem lies with the technology.
After the frustration with the Twitter service for changes like this, I thought I would give up Twitter. However, Twitter is the sum of a number of parts: there is the service that Twitter provides, from the backend servers to the APIs to the user interfaces and client software you use; and then there are the people that contribute to Twitter. Among those contributors are people I really enjoy socializing with whom I cannot connect with any other way. To give up all of Twitter means tossing out the baby, the bathwater and even the tub itself. That’s dumb. (I do dumb things often, but typically correct most of them in time. :))
To get around that, I decided to use my limited software skills and the APIs that Twitter provides to write my own Twitter client, in a way. It is a hack, but it is a good hack (for me). I am able to control what I see this way. Not only do I not have promoted tweets, etc., in my feed, but I am able to get rid of things like RTs from everyone, rather than having to turn of RTs one at a time. I’m also able to save all the tweets in a spreadsheet or some other format, so I can look at them when I am less busy, or decide on other filters I want to apply, etc. Later on I can write more filters so if a trending topic gets to be too much, I can just delete it or save it to a different file for later.
Now my Twitter experience is gone from poor to great (for me). I have thrown out the dirty bath water, but kept the tub and the baby. This makes more sense, obviously.
Last but not least, I appreciate all the people who expressed concern over my leaving Twitter. It was very kind of you, and why I want to stick around, if I can.