Posts I tried chatGPT: should I be worried about my job?

I tried chatGPT: should I be worried about my job?

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I got access to chatGPT using the new chat section in I asked it to do following:

“Write an angular app that integrates with with an API key “xyz” to fetch movies and display them in a grid according to selected category”

In a few seconds I got my wish fulfilled! not only did it correctly construct the app, it figured out the available categories in API and incorporated that in the code, categories I intentionally did not mention in my command.

ChatGPT response ChatGPT response

For comparison (and I am really sorry to say that) I wrote the same angular application 6 years ago in 2 days while learning angular, and I have been updating the implementation every now and then to keep up with the framework updates and update my implementation style.

On a side note: I wrote this blog post myself, I wanted to write my own thoughts about chatGPT, although I could have easily asked chatGPT to write this post as well, and I am sure it would have done that in seconds!!

Should I, as a Software Engineer, be worried about my job and career?

To answer that question and try and predict the future, I like to look at the past. I would like to compare the chatGPT invention with a similar event that took place 583 years ago, in Germany in 1440: The Gutenberg Press.

The Gutenberg Press increased the rate at which information and ideas could circulate and spread, by a factor of 1000x at least. according to Wikipedia, a single printing press could produce up to 3,600 pages per workday, compared to a few by hand-copying. This development caused significant benefits to human civilization, it gave more people access to information, literature, ideas, and science. it allowed newer generation to build on the knowledge acquired by previous ones, and it allowed the human civilization to evolve more quickly because of that access to knowledge.

In addition to the benefits realised by the printing press, the invention also had what appeared at the time to be a catastrophic side-effect: it destroyed the high status profession of scribes. since Ancient Egypt a scribe was a high status person who invested time and effort to learn the art of writing, scribes were considered part of the royal court in Egypt, they were exempt from heavy manual labour and did not get conscripted into the army, a scribe was a really big deal.

The high status profession continued until the invention and adoption of the Gutenberg press, an invention that (like chatGPT) threatened the livelihood of thousands of scribes across the world. so was it really that bad? chatGPT on the other hand appears to threaten the livelihood of other professions as well, not only software engineers, and the number of people affected is now in millions.

Yes, the Gutenberg press killed the scribing profession (as it was known at the time), there was no longer a need for hand-copying books. and for a while I am sure people lost their jobs, but because of this invention new professions evolved that are much more important: Journalism for example, now writers could use their skills to report events, publish opinions, and debate ideas. newspapers could never exist without the Gutenberg press.

What happened because of the Gutenberg press could actually be observed in Software Engineering since the 70s but on a smaller scale. it is called “Abstraction”, and it happened with the invention of modern programming languages, it allowed programers to move from writing computer commands in Assembly to expressing ideas in C and even higher level languages later on, programmers didn’t have to worry anymore about processor registers or memory space, at least not as much as before. this enabled programmers and software engineers to design and implement more sophisticated systems, and allowed the industry to grow.

What I think chatGPT will do is similar to the examples above. these advancements allow humans to think and work on higher levels of abstraction, as a software engineer I should be able to come up with ideas on a higher frequency and use chatGPT to develop and ship more proof of concepts, more MVPs, without having to worry about data structures, flow of code, or coding convention, it allows us to think and work on a different level, higher than assembly, higher than JavaScript.

As a software engineer I am not worried about my job or career by technologies like ChatGPT, I am actually excited, and I think you should be too.

UPDATE: I actually discussed this article with ChatGPT, I include the below snapshots of the limited conversation (Microsoft limits the conversation now by 8 queries), you be the judge if ChatGPT understood my ideas and critiqued this article well:

ChatGPT article discussion 1 ChatGPT article discussion 2 ChatGPT article discussion 3 ChatGPT article discussion 4 ChatGPT article discussion 5

Update 2: Microsoft confirmed that the new bing has been running GPT-4 for the past 5 weeks. so the interactions described in this post are with GPT-4.

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.