There will be code

There is a wired story which predicted that advancements in artificial intelligence will result in programs getting trained rather than being written. This is keeping in line with machine learning advancements popular these days where the number of people who are doing "machine learning" need not learn "how to write the machine learning algorithms", instead they just need to learn "how to use machine learning algorithms" on data. They should be efficient at using "algorithms".

That was total alien concept to me until I saw a whole category and industry flourish with that concept. Given the background, the wired articles prediction was that programs will be trained instead of being written.

I found an alternate argument, from a credible and respectable source Clean Code By: Robert C. Martin It goes like this.

There Will Be Code

One might argue that a book about code is somehow behind the times—that code is no longer the issue; that we should be concerned about models and requirements instead. Indeed some have suggested that we are close to the end of code. That soon all code will be generated instead of written. That programmers simply won’t be needed because business people will generate programs from specifications.

Nonsense! We will never be rid of code, because code represents the details of the requirements. At some level those details cannot be ignored or abstracted; they have to be specified. And specifying requirements in such detail that a machine can execute them is programming. Such a specification is code.

I expect that the level of abstraction of our languages will continue to increase. I also expect that the number of domain-specific languages will continue to grow. This will be a good thing. But it will not eliminate code. Indeed, all the specifications written in these higher level and domain-specific language will be code! It will still need to be rigorous, accurate, and so formal and detailed that a machine can understand and execute it.

The folks who think that code will one day disappear are like mathematicians who hope one day to discover a mathematics that does not have to be formal. They are hoping that one day we will discover a way to create machines that can do what we want rather than what we say. These machines will have to be able to understand us so well that they can translate vaguely specified needs into perfectly executing programs that precisely meet those needs.

This will never happen. Not even humans, with all their intuition and creativity, have been able to create successful systems from the vague feelings of their customers. Indeed, if the discipline of requirements specification has taught us anything, it is that well-specified requirements are as formal as code and can act as executable tests of that code!

Remember that code is really the language in which we ultimately express the requirements. We may create languages that are closer to the requirements. We may create tools that help us parse and assemble those requirements into formal structures. But we will never eliminate necessary precision—so there will always be code.


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