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The Future of Work: AI [Still] Needs Your Creativity & Ideas.

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We’ve heard developers express their fears about AI taking over their roles. Considering we’re an AI-powered company, we thought we’d provide more insight into how we see the relationship between this technology and the future of work, and why we believe AI provides an amazing launchpad for your next great idea, but isn’t going to take your job.

The background

It’s a story as old as the mid-eighteenth century, when the Industrial Revolution began to sweep America and the UK. It’s a sort of universal paranoia epitomized in the story of John Henry, an American railroad worker and, “steel-driving man,” who challenged a new-fangled steam drill to a contest and won – but only at the cost of his own life. Whenever new technology develops, it brings with it the worry that human jobs will be lost to the “evil” of advancing science.

Today, we face a new kind of industrial revolution. This time, in the form of rapidly developing Artificial Intelligence, and the same worries come along with it. Computers and artificial intelligence will take our jobs, they say. Millions of workers will be left with no livelihoods and no way to feed their families.

Are these fears justified? Are the robots coming to steal your software dev job? Or worse? The short answer is, “no.”

In general, it’s true that advancing technology inevitably replaces some human tasks. That’s its job. That’s why we created it and continue to create. Technology is a celebration of human resourcefulness. We see tasks that are boring, repetitive or dangerous, and we think of a better way to get them done. We think of a way to automate tasks, because we have better things to do.

What is replaceable? What’s not?

For years, computer scientists have tried to teach computers to create art. Or, to put it more broadly, they’ve tried to teach computers to be creative. Computers have created music, works of visual art and even convincingly written text. But although computers are able to “create,” computers have yet to (and some say never will) “be creative.”

The dictionary pegs creativity as, “the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.” Art is, “a process by which human beings express some idea or emotion, filter it through personal experience and set it against a broader cultural context.”

It’s the difference between painting a portrait of your brother while mourning his death as opposed to throwing paint at a canvas while trying to keep it inside of an outline of your brother’s head. Yes, a computer can do much better than throwing paint. A computer can actually make quite a good portrait of your brother if given a picture to look at. But a computer can’t spontaneously decide to paint your brother because it lies awake thinking of him at night. It can’t convey the nuance of your brother’s mischievous smile. It can’t show how it feels about the fact that it will never see your brother again. It can’t make you feel what it feels. It can create, but it can’t be creative. AI can paint a portrait, but it can’t make art. In developing software, an inordinate amount of the developers’ time is spent pounding out endless lines of code on a keyboard. We give the computer a complex system of specific rules to follow: if x, then y. Without those rules, the computer wouldn’t know what to do.

It’s a drawn-out process that can take huge amounts of time. But what’s the most important part of the process? What tells us how that code needs to be written? You. Me. The developer. The entrepreneur with a vision.

Engineer.ai’s Builder platform and your AI-powered friend, Natasha, are the perfect example.

In traditional software development, the client pays for every line of code. With Builder, clients pay only for what’s unique. You don’t reinvent the wheel every time you want to build a car. Why rebuild a Facebook login every time you build an app?

We still need you.

Natasha complements our team of human developers. She doesn’t do the work for them, she helps them work smarter. She helps them work more efficiently. The developers are the artists; Natasha is their brush. She’s the tool that determines which code already exists in our vast repository. She chooses the best fit from our 31,000-strong elastic network of human developers for the job of putting it all together; to create something new.

Technology in the form of AI is not here to take your job. It’s here to improve your job. It’s coming to help you do the things humans do best. It’s here to let you dream, empathize, imagine, create. It’s these important traits that define what it means to be human. It’s these traits and abilities that are sure to continue to separate us from the robots for quite some time to come.

The world needs you.

Yes, it’s easy to get caught up in the predictions of software that writes itself and machine learning replacing coding, but one thing remains true. AI can create, but it’s far from being creative. It can’t create art. For that, we need the humans–and artists at that. For developing that kind of creativity, we need the visionary with the drive to make the world a better place. For that, we need you. Natasha and her friends are simply here to help.

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