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Why learning to code is still important in an AI-driven world

I'm Fahim, a software developer turned tech founder. This article is part of my series: The Developer’s Launchpad. I'll share my top lessons, hacks, and best practices for learning how to code and launching a new career — things I wish I would've known earlier in my journey. If you're starting out your own coding journey, this series is for you.

As a developer, I understand the investment of time and energy that goes into learning how to code. With  Generative AI  on the rise and recent layoffs, I have seen the impact on how humans approach software development today. Developers are now using AI to automate repetitive tasks like code reviews, debugging, and testing to streamline their workflow so they can focus on more meaningful and innovative work. And now with the tech lay-offs we've been seeing lately since AI has become more prevalent, it can be  worrisome  to consider choosing the path of becoming a developer. With all this going on, it makes sense to wonder if learning to code is still worth the investment. 

Today, I'll discuss why it's still worth learning to code in the AI era. First, we'll go over how learning to code will empower you, followed by AI's impact on the job market, and then transition to the value of having human software developers for AI collaboration.

Learning to code will empower you (especially in the AI era)

In the age of AI, learning to code has become more crucial than ever as it prepares individuals to become strong in critical and logical thinking across diverse industries such as technology, healthcare, education, etc. Knowing how to code allows you to become effective at solving problems when it comes to communicating with technology. The key to good problem-solving is the ability to think outside the box, and this requires your human imagination. Like AI being trained to think like a human, coding trains us to think like a computer — which is a very valuable skill. Continuously learning the language of a computer is not only a great way to add value to your skills, but also to understand the nuances of how software is built, and how a computer thinks, which opens up opportunities for seamless collaborations with AI. 

As you're starting your learning to code journey, it is best to gain strong familiarity and competency with the fundamentals of programming first, like learning how to think in algorithms. 

When it comes to traditional methods of learning, there are certain limitations, such as not having courses tailored to individual interests or goals. Due to this,  AI-powered learning platforms are evolving to encourage enhanced learning outcomes through utilizing data-driven personalized experiences. Courses are tailored to your specific interests and career goals so that AI can recommend the right learning path for you, empowering you further. 

AI affects the job market

AI technology has the potential to reshape the job market given its ability to enhance productivity through task automation. This could raise concerns for those who are seeking to land a career in the tech sector. However, this actually enables workers to focus on more creative high-value activities rather than repetitive and manual labor. Therefore, AI is in no position to fully  replace our jobs

In fact, AI will open the door for unexplored areas in our evolving world of technology, providing more job opportunities. For example, in the  agriculture sector , AI can optimize the workflow of managing crops, monitor the health of plants, and analyze weather conditions. This allows for making informed decisions that maximize sustainability. 

Let's remember the impact of calculators and how people used them to achieve more meaningful complex tasks while reducing tedious work. Companies are on the lookout for professionals who can use AI to automate tasks more efficiently in their workflow, encouraging more human-AI collaborations. Learning to code gives you a headstart to demonstrate technical proficiency and problem-solving abilities in order to stay current in the job market. 

We still need (human) developers

we still need developers

Despite AI's advancements, the need for human software developers will not go away. There are certain nuances of human ingenuity when it comes to writing software, and AI has not simulated those. While AI can be an effective assistant for writing code, it still has its own limitations such as not fully replicating human intelligence and creativity. There are many cases where AI tools like ChatGPT have made mistakes when it comes to solving programming problems such as generating inaccurate code. Due to cases like this, AI needs supervision and critical thinking from humans. By learning how to code, you will equip yourself with the right skills for detecting inaccuracies and discrepancies in the outputs of AI.

For one, AI lacks the leadership abilities and creativity that bring immense value and advantages in many areas of work and life. Developers are problem-solvers at heart. 

Additionally, human empathy is needed to create great software. 

"Programs are meant to be read by humans and only incidentally for computers to execute." — Harold Abelson and Gerald Jay Sussman, 'Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs'

This quote encourages us to write code that is structured well and easy to understand, but it also emphasizes that we write code for humans — not computers. Only humans will have this capacity to embody empathy to understand a user's needs, and artistic ability when it comes to coming up with solutions to solve a coding problem. The world needs more people who can code beyond the capabilities of AI.

Championing the qualities of curiosity, ingenuity, and creative problem-solving will make learning to code an exciting and fulfilling journey. 

Finally, as our world becomes increasingly reliant on using technology, the demand for coding skills will heighten. Acquiring the skills needed in order to know how to program can open up a wide range of career opportunities. As you continue to sharpen your coding skills, you become much more proficient in programming. Proficient programmers have the ability to customize AI solutions to improve its overall effectiveness so that technology remains relevant and valuable.

There's no better time than now to learn

learn to code

The best way to know when you should learn to code is simply by trying it out through direct experience. With all the learning resources out there, learning to code has become more accessible than ever. Becoming proficient in programming will prepare you to adapt to the evolving world of AI-driven technology. 

"AI won't replace programmers, but it will become an essential tool in their arsenal. It's about empowering humans to do more, not do less." — Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft

At the end of the day, AI isn't going to replace someone's job; a human who knows how to work with AI will. When you are learning to code, you are empowering yourself to be equipped to work with intelligent machines. The investment is absolutely worth it. 

Best of luck and happy learning!

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