Love it or hate it, artificial intelligence will soon transform everything we do and how we do it.
There will be much teeth gnashing and garment rending, but Pandora's box has now been opened. Fighting against the spread of AI will be every bit as difficult and satisfying as Sisyphus rolling his boulder up the hill every day only for it to roll back down as it nears the top.
AI will not replace software developers.
BUT, software developers who embrace AI will replace (or at least wildly outearn) software developers who fight to maintain the non-AI status quo.
Why I Believe So Strongly in this Shift
I just finished up my first in-person Microsoft MVP Summit.
For those who don't know, the MVP Summit is a three-day event held at the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington. All the Microsoft "Most Valuable Professionals" get invited to attend. Microsoft pulls back the curtain and grants current MVPs access to confidential non-public information. (As part of the MVP program, all MVPs are required to sign non-disclosure agreements [NDAs].)
Before the summit, I understood the transformational impact of this new technology. After the summit, though, I have a new appreciation for just how much Microsoft has bought into this technology.
AI is not a Fad
This is not some flash-in-the-pan technology or simply the next tool in the evolution of software. It is truly revolutionary.
Here are a few of the reasons I believe this:
- Microsoft is betting BIG on AI
- AI captured the world's attention in one fell swoop
- AI is progressing faster than any technology ... ever?
- ROI swamps any cost concerns around AI
Microsoft's Big Bet on AI
Microsoft recently invested $10 billion in ChatGPT maker OpenAI. Microsoft's AI "copilots" are popping up everywhere:
Pretty soon even the copilots will have copilots.
I can't get into any specifics for obvious reasons, but the MVP Summit really hammered home what was already clear from the outside:
Microsoft is all in on AI.
AI had been bubbling just below the surface of our collective consciences for decades. Much like nuclear fusion, AI seemed like the technology that was perpetually "right around the corner."
Until one day, seemingly out of the blue, it appeared.
ChatGPT burst onto the scene on November 30, 2022, garnering one million users in its first week and passing 100 million users in under two months. Talk about a viral hit.
Moore's Law famously states "that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit (IC) doubles about every two years." This exponential growth in a particular technology was something the world had never seen at the time.
For years, AI technology was at a barbecue with all the other technologies watching Moore's Law do its thing, until 2022 when it finally sat up, threw back a giant swig, wiped the foam off its mouth with a meaty forearm, walked over to nuclear technology, and said, "Hold my beer."
The breakthroughs in Large Language Models (LLMs) like GPT-4 have led industry leaders including Elon Musk and Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak, to sign an open letter calling for a six-month pause* in new AI development.
* It will not happen.
The current cost of AI is "eye-watering."
So said Sam Altman, the CEO of ChatGPT creator OpenAI:
But here's the thing. Used properly, AI is the greatest force-multiplying technology the world has ever seen. The cost of not embracing the technology will far outweigh any investments you make in using it.
As Access developers, we don't have the same ready access to code-writing productivity tools like GitHub Copilot. That means Access's long-time edge in productivity as a rapid application development tool will continue to be eroded. The challenge for us will be to find a way to incorporate AI into our development practices so that we can continue to stay ahead of the game. I'll have more to say about that in future articles.