Studying Computer Science in the age of AI bic_2021_admn 2023.05.02.

Studying Computer Science in the age of AI

Even though ChatGPT was just released in November, Artificial Intelligence already became an everyday part of our lives. It is used to write advertisements, copies, solve complex issues and yes, even develop code. So the question comes: does studying computer science in the age of AI still make sense?

For many years, Computer Science (and mostly, Coding) seemed to be untouchable when it came to technological changes and advancement. Many many companies are short of programmers, universities are promoting their Computer Science programs, short courses are available for the general public… as a matter of fact, all professions can benefit somewhat from coding. Computer Science skills are so desperately needed everywhere, that having a degree in the field has been practically a green card for amazing career advancements.

So what happens now, when even a simple AI chatbot can write very high quality code? Is studying computer science in the age of AI still the not-so-secret pathway to career and wealth?

According to Perforce, one of the biggest reasons as to why programmers will remain invaluable is the fact that their biggest advantage is to know what to write and not only how to write code. AI can only write the code if someone tells them to, thus without a human, AI is not enough to perform a full task. Parkersoftware also adds, that even though AI can write code, it cannot make sure that is the right code. They wrote: “The future of programming and AI is one of integration; a symbiosis between human and computer.”

Also, Business Insider points out, there is still so much more software humanity might need. Zachary Tatlock, a professor of computer science at the University of Washington told the Business Insider “One way to think about it is that for the past 50 years, we have been massively underproducing. We haven’t been meeting software demand. AI, in other words, may help humans write code faster, but we’ll still want all the humans around because we need as much software as they can build, as fast as they can build it.”

Another very important thing to consider according to the Insider, is that even though humans will be less necessary maybe in some fields, but they will still be needed for tasks that AI cannot do. As the International Monetary Fund put it very well: “Just because computers can perform some job tasks does not mean that jobs will be eliminated.” They mention the case of bank tellers and ATMs. ATM machines were introduced in the 70s-80s and they took away some of the most important tasks of bank tellers- e.g. dispersing cash or taking deposits. However, just because a considerable amount of their tasks were automated, bank tellers have not disappeared (in fact, their number didn’t even decrease!) for 2 main reasons:
1. Because each bank branch needed less bank tellers for their day-to-day operations, now they could open new branches to increase profits- so the overall number of bank tellers didn’t drop.
2. The second reason was that bacuse manual work was now done by ATMs, bank tellers could focus on other tasks that ATMs couldn’t do: such as building customer relations and boost sales.

Similarly, Zachary Tatlock said that he expects programmers to probably write less code themselves, but rather verifying messy or even potentially dangerous code written by AI.

There is no denying that AI will change the profession in the future- for better or worse and human coders will need to change with it. However, computer science will surely stay a sought-after and prestigious degree to hold, with endless opportunities. And if you think about it: probably this time is the perfect time to start, when the industry has reached such a huge turning point.I