GitHub Copilot is (probably) not going to replace you

GitHub Copilot — How it Works

This topic has probably already been discussed to death, but I still wish to add my two cents, so I can look back at it in the future when we eventually all get replaced by machines.

If you still don’t know what GitHub Copilot is, check out the official website:

I must say, as a dev, using it is absolutely mind-blowing. It’s impossible not to be amazed at some of the suggestions. It really feels like magic. Even if you are not interested, I highly suggest signing up and giving it a try for a few minutes, you can always disable it later.

But wait, if this does everything for me, then what is my job? Are we all going to be replaced?

You might be so amazed by it, that you will probably start doubting yourself even more than usual. And, by the way, this is a real thing: Check out imposter syndrome and how to deal with it. But that’s a story for another time.

For all the great that it does, GitHub Copilot is probably not going to replace you anytime soon. Developers should live to think, not to type in code. We should think about unique problems and how to solve them on every scale, instead of simply being translators. We should be creative and versatile in our approach. Typing in code can be fun, but solving real problems in the best possible way is where it’s at.

Why add the probably then? Well, let’s dive a bit deeper.

Humans vs Machines — Coming to a reality near you, a lot sooner than you think

Even though I don’t believe real developers are going away anytime soon, even with tools like GitHub Copilot improving over time, the truth is that a lot of humans will be replaced with machines in their jobs in the near future. You can already see it for yourself if you look around and think about whether a job really needs a human.

And you know what? That’s totally OK. That is if we as a global species know how to behave properly and make the most out of it. Humans have very special characteristics. We are much better suited for other tasks that machines will probably never be able to replicate at quite the same level — Like deep conversations, emotion, philosophy, art, caretaking, relationships, creativity, learning, exploring, freedom, experiencing life, and so on. A lot of professions that are currently lost and probably mean unemployment could be completely revived and valued accordingly.

If we are able to direct some of the global profit that machines will bring us and distribute it over the world — An Universal Basic Income, we can bring equal opportunities for everyone to be really human and do whatever they do best. Of course, this is a utopia and as we all know, in practice things very rarely go that well.

What does this mean for developers?

Well, if that utopia ever becomes a reality, I’m personally OK with being totally replaced by a machine in my job and having the opportunity to be more of a human, being able to spend more of my time with my family and doing other things that I also love. That actually sounds wonderful.

Until then, I think it really depends on who you are as a developer. Let’s think about it:

If you are simply a “code monkey”, someone who types in code for solutions that often times are already solved, are you really that useful? Even searching for specific problems and copy/pasting solutions from Stack Overflow gets totally replaced by Copilot — It’s so much faster and convenient to use its autocomplete.

So what are you really bringing to the table? What makes you better than an AI pair programmer?

I think developers should start thinking more about what makes them unique, and most of all, human. And that also means companies should value those individuals accordingly.

So, how about it, should you be worried about your future?



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Nuno Góis — Full-Stack Developer with too many hobbies - including video games, writing, reading, traveling, music, movies and series.