Here's an old joke you've likely heard before in one form or another:
A deeply religious man lived by the river. One day, heavy rain fell and the river started rising. As the water levels increased, a neighbor in a canoe paddled by and said to the man, "Quick, get in my canoe, the waters are rising!"
The man replied, "No, thank you. I have faith that God will save me."
The water kept rising and now entered his first floor. A rescue team in a motorboat came by and one of the rescuers said, "Hurry up, get in! The water is still rising!"
Again, the man declined, "No need, I am waiting for God to save me."
Eventually, the man had to climb up to his roof as the water level rose even higher. A helicopter flew over, and the pilot dropped down a ladder, shouting down to the man, "Grab the ladder, this is your last chance!"
For the third time, the man refused, shouting back, "I have faith! God will save me!"
Not long after, the waters overcame the house and the man drowned. Upon reaching heaven, the man had the chance to speak with God. He asked, "God, I had unwavering faith in you. Why did you not come to save me?"
And God replied, "What do you mean? I sent you a canoe, a motorboat, and a helicopter!"
I've been thinking about this joke a lot lately as I've begun to notice that Access developers (and tech workers more generally) seem to fall into two main camps:
- Those who think AI is coming for our jobs and therefore resent it
- Those who think AI is the next step forward in productivity and therefore embrace it
My concern is that both camps could be correct about themselves.
Embracing AI in Development: A Tale of Two Choices
In the rapidly evolving world of software development, professionals stand at a crossroads shaped by the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
As reflected in the opening parable, developers are currently presented with a defining moment in their professional journey. The unfolding narrative of AI in the tech industry isn't just about new tools and technologies; it's about recognizing the significance of adaptation and the willingness to leverage the resources at our disposal. Just as the man in the story faced a crucial decision amidst the rising floodwaters, developers too must decide their stance on the integration of AI into their work.
In a similar vein, today's developers are faced with a choice that could determine the trajectory of their careers: to embrace AI or to reject it.
The New Landscape of AI
AI technologies, like ChatGPT, are the canoes, motorboats, and helicopters of our era.
They represent the tools and opportunities extended to developers to navigate the rising waters of industry demand and technological advancement. AI has the potential to automate tedious tasks, optimize workflows, and provide insights that were previously unattainable, thereby enhancing the productivity and creativity of those who wield it.
The Choice to Embrace
Developers who choose to embrace AI open themselves up to a world of possibilities.
These individuals will not only secure their relevance in the job market but also gain access to new and exciting opportunities. By leveraging AI, mundane aspects of programming can be streamlined, allowing developers to focus on more complex and innovative aspects of their projects.
The developers who see AI as a partner rather than a replacement are the ones who will become more productive, more competitive, and ultimately, thrive in the AI economy.
The Choice to Eschew
Conversely, those who choose to eschew AI, perhaps out of fear or a belief that it represents an existential threat to their jobs, risk falling behind.
By ignoring the 'rescue boats' of AI, these developers inadvertently decrease their productivity and competitive edge. In the fast-paced world of technology, stagnation can be akin to regression.
The refusal to adapt and the insistence on maintaining traditional methods in a transforming field can lead to obsolescence.
The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
The story of the flood victim who shunned help is not just a cautionary tale about faith and rescue; it's a lesson in the self-fulfilling nature of our beliefs and choices. In the context of AI and development, the prophecy is twofold:
If you believe that AI is the end of your job and refuse to engage with it, you may very well find yourself out of work. Not because AI has usurped your position, but because the industry has moved toward those who can complement their skills with AI's capabilities.
If you believe that AI is a tool that can enhance your productivity and open new doors, you will be right. By incorporating AI into your skillset, you will find that it amplifies your abilities, makes you a more valuable asset to any team, and positions you at the forefront of innovation.
The moral for developers in this AI-driven age is clear: the future belongs to those who recognize and seize the assistance and opportunities AI provides.
Embracing AI doesn't mean the end of your job; it means the enhancement of your job. It's an invitation to grow, to improve, and to be part of the exciting evolution of technology.
As the waters of change continue to rise, the choice each developer makes—to embrace the rescue boats of AI or to refuse them—will shape their path forward in profound ways.
A few other Access developers have explored the role of AI and how it might shape the future of software development.
Recently reawarded Access MVP Richard Rost seems to be in the same metaphorical boat as me. He explored this topic recently on his YouTube channel:
Rick Hanson (Pharos Technology)
Dr. Richard Hanson took a slightly different approach, testing ChatGPT to see how close it is to taking the job of an Access developer today (spoiler alert: your jobs are safe for now):
Longtime Access MVP Daniel Pineault is not a fan. He takes particular issue with the copyright implications of LLMs like ChatGPT:
Twenty-five-year (!) Access MVP Karl Donaubauer takes a more nuanced approach. Several months ago, Karl signed onto the open letter calling for a six-month pause of "giant AI experiments." However, he announced his signing of that letter in the same article in which he introduced the first commercial AI add-in developed for Microsoft Access, acknowledging that it would be naive to expect AI research to actually pause in any meaningful way.
- Portions of this article's body generated with the help of ChatGPT (because of course 😉)
- Cover image generated with DALL-E-3