Is Machine Learning changing Software Development? Should you be worried about this?

Jeff Dean, the lead of Google.ai, Google's AI division mentioned that Google was able to replace 500,000 lines of code from Google Translate with only 500 lines of TensorFlow.

Let that sink in for a second: that’s 1000:1 ratio. And of course, this is anecdotical evidence, but Machine Learning has that sort of power: to completely change software development the way we know it today.

That being said, we need to make sure we aren’t caving into the non-sense hype. Software development has pretty much been the same for the last few decades, and even though Machine Learning is threatening the status quo, we should expect changes along the same line that has gotten us where we are today. In short: computers will not be writing code for us anytime soon.

But if your life revolves around building software like mine is, then you definitely want to take note, because this is a train that’s moving fast and will have a significant impact in what we do today.

I like to remember a few years back (actually, more than a few) when everyone was writing console applications. That’s all there was until the GUI came along and people had to learn a new thing: how to develop desktop applications. I know a bunch of people (probably me, as well) that thought that we were going to write this sort of programs for the rest of our lives.

But then the Web showed up, and of course, a lot of people didn’t care enough, until they had to. How many people do you know today that are still writing desktop applications and had the luxury to ignore web applications completely? I bet a few. But something similar happened with mobile apps: a lot of developers had to adapt to learn an entirely new platform to avoid staying behind.

And of course, I’m sure not everyone had to do this, and I’m sure a lot of people are doing perfectly fine still developing console applications. But those are the exception; most of us have had to constantly evolve together with technology.

Something similar is happening right now: Machine Learning is a new thing that’s changing the way we develop software. Companies are pushing really, really hard to invest as much as they can, and developers have to get on board or face a grim future.

But there’s something new in all of this: Machine Learning is not just a new platform; it is a new way of thinking, a new way to create value using software. Machine Learning is the first serious challenge to conventional software development, where the way to make computers achieve our goals moves from humans building logical blocks of code, to humans collecting information and letting computers extract knowledge and figure out the answers.

And this is a fantastic accomplishment. With Machine Learning developers have access to offer solutions for a whole set of problems that were very difficult or near impossible before. Just look around, and you’ll be able to see a bunch of examples that have changed our lives in just the past few years.

And I hope that you aren’t feeling bad about all of this because Machine Learning is not an elite club reserved for someone else: we all need to make this happen. And if you are a software developer today and feeling pretty good about it, let me tell you a secret: adding some knowledge about Machine Learning to your tool-belt, anything, it’s like getting a super-power.

People will line to give you work and will want to pay you whatever you ask. You aren’t not just going to be another statistician, or mathematician, or whoever-else-that-doesn’t-know-software-like-you-do. You’ll have the ability to build software, and on top of that, you’ll be able to use Machine Learning to make that software much better.

You are in the best position to completely take over this industry.

And if you need any help getting started, I just posted an article with some resources that can help you get off the ground. Go, start working on this, and break a leg out there.

And before closing, Happy Christmas and Happy 2019 for everyone reading! I wish you the world for this coming year!

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