AI is finally taking our jobs. Here's Devin, the first AI Software Engineer

Is AI going to take developer jobs? Is it good enough? Let's go through that in this post

What the heck is Devin?

Recently we were introduced to Devin, an AI created by Cognition Labs to work as a software engineer. Scott from Cognition AI demonstrated some of Devin's capabilities, such as making a plan to tackle a problem, building a project using common developer tools, adding print statements to debug errors, and deploying a visualization of the results. Personally, I hated the name. However, the project itself seemed promising compared to what we have so far.

Capabilities and Limitations

Devin was able to complete some real jobs posted on Upwork. However, the details about the types of jobs and companies involved were unclear. As an AI, Devin is still limited in its ability to reason through complex problems, understand client needs, and communicate effectively - skills that are important for software development. For now, Devin can only solve around 13% of problems independently, requiring human oversight for the remaining work.

Concerns about Job Replacement for Developers

While AI capabilities are advancing, I do not believe Devin or similar AI could replace human software developers any time soon. I may be wrong. But I don’t have enough evidence so far to clearly see an AI do whatever is required to do in a sophisticated product development team. Software development requires skills like brainstorming, problem-solving in context, back-and-forth communication with teams, and improving solutions iteratively - areas where AI is still limited. Junior developers in particular may be concerned, but focusing on building a strong portfolio of personal projects is what I would advise.

Tips for Junior Developers

I advise juniors not to be scared and to focus on developing their skills. I recommend creating valuable personal projects on GitHub, not just tutorials or basic apps. These projects should be taken further - updating the UI, adding features, and promoting them on social media to showcase skills to recruiters.

My Take

In summary, I believe AI will not replace software development jobs imminently. Devin shows promise but also clear limitations. Developers should focus on strengthening their own skills and portfolios rather than worrying about AI competition. I believe as Software Developers, we should focus on becoming developers who can develop software. It feels weird when I write that, lol. But I’m pointing to an idea contrary to focusing on being a technology specialist. The idea of being a Software Developer is to constantly invest on the skillset as the world progresses and invents new ways of solving problems. It can include new tools, new approaches, but also AI. So instead of being afraid of it, we can focus on learning how to leverage AI for our processes. I understand this requires a lot of time and effort. But as the wise folks say….

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