HomeBlogArticlesHow Can Developers Take Advantage of AI?

How Can Developers Take Advantage of AI?

AI is rarely far from the headlines these days, but it can be hard to separate the actual opportunities the technology offers from both the overblown hype and the doom-and-gloom predictions. One place where AI is already shaking things up is in the field of software development.

The leaders in software development in the coming years will know not just what AI is but they’ll also know how to direct and use it.

So how can developers take advantage of AI? This article covers the benefits and challenges.

About AI for Developers

There are a lot of misconceptions about AI in the public sphere, and the big companies promoting it don’t always have the incentives to clear those up. At its heart, AI is simply code designed to interpret a large data set in order to find patterns and accomplish specific tasks.

Predictive Analytics & Generative AI

While Bard and ChatGPT are the current “faces” of AI, these represent a type of intelligence known as generative AI. Generative technology learns from a massive dataset and “understands” this content using deep learning. This means it repeatedly refines its understanding of features (e.g., of text or images) to the extent that it can generate new content when prompted.

There’s also a type of intelligence known as predictive analytics. This has been widely used in data analysis and product development – it involves combing data for historical patterns that are then used to map future data points. Developers and project managers use predictive analytics to troubleshoot issues before they arise.

Both generative and predictive intelligence can aid developers, whether it’s generating code or understanding common UX pitfalls. So what’s likely to change in practice?

Changes in the Developer’s Role

Software developers have always had a certain amount of project management in their roles, and this is only projected to grow. With AI handling repetitive tasks and suggesting solutions for difficult coding problems, you can focus instead on managing your team to achieve your goals.

If and when AI takes over more of a code-writing role, it will still need humans to direct it toward the right goal. The software developer will need critical thinking, decision-making, and delegation skills even more than they already do.

What does this mean for the software developer? You certainly won’t be out of a job anytime soon, but AI is changing the role and presenting some clear opportunities.

Let’s talk about those opportunities…

How Can Developers Take Advantage of AI? – 5 Benefits

1. Automating Tedious Tasks

We’re not at the point where AI can write the full code for a complicated application itself. But it’s more than capable of writing chunks of code under the careful direction of the developer.

That may not sound like much, but it has the potential to change how your team works and is one answer for how can developers can take advantage of AI.

If you’re a developer managing a team, you can assign AI to write code that’s simple but time-consuming and finicky. That means:

  • You can focus on complex problems that require human insight instead. Your team’s energies will be concentrated on the real issues you’re trying to solve instead of on straightforward and easy code.
  • You can offer your team more exciting work. They’ll enjoy working on big problems, and it can be a boost to morale.
  • The code produced is going to have fewer errors than if a human had written it. Even the most focused humans can make mistakes with repetitive tasks, but AI doesn’t.

With AI as a part of your team, your projects can get larger and more ambitious in scope. You’ll be able to tackle massive amounts of data and better meet the organization’s goals.

2. AI Testing

How can developers take advantage of AI when testing? Rereading and debugging code line by line is the least interesting part of a software developer’s job. It’s also the part of the job best suited for artificial intelligence.

AI can read through code and automatically flag any errors. It can also be used to instantly correct typos and small mistakes. AI already spellchecks our documents and makes grammar suggestions – it can do the same for code.

You can also automatically scan executable files to test for bugs, which is great for catching last-minute errors before a patch or update goes live. For instances where you need a human tester, AI programs can transform queries typed out in plain English into formatted code ready to test your program.

In the past, testing and debugging required both extreme attention to detail and an idea of every potential test a system might need. These are tasks that stretch human abilities but are well within AI’s wheelhouse.

3. Protecting Data

The consequences of small mistakes in code are rarely higher than when it comes to privacy and data protection. Oftentimes, hackers exploit vulnerabilities that the developers weren’t aware the code even had.

Good data protection requires frequent testing that accounts for all possible scenarios. This is why it can be tricky for humans to do – we have a hard time spotting problems if we’re not looking for them.

AI-assisted testing has the capacity to be a lot more rigorous and all-encompassing. This testing can also be done automatically, which frees up programmers and IT staff to handle other problems.

With AI as a tool in your arsenal, you can more thoroughly test code before a release and keep testing for vulnerabilities after. That can help your company spot a potential data breach before cybercriminals do.

4. Avoiding Downtime

After the software goes live, errors and bugs in code start to have really serious consequences. When error management causes system downtime, that’s money out the door.

And the costs of downtime aren’t limited to just IT overtime and lost revenue – there are also a lot of opportunity costs. You may be paying employees that can’t work if things are down, as well as missing sales and taking a hit to your reputation.

Once your software is up and running, AI can help you flag and keep track of errors as they come up. This helps your team take a more proactive role in patching and repairing the code. AI can also spot patterns your team might have missed and help you get real-time feedback from users.

Operations teams can also make use of AI to find where the errors are after a big outage. Think of AI in this situation like the computer at your mechanic’s – it’s able to spot where the problem is in your car, though the mechanic still has to be able to interpret the signal and know how to fix the problem.

According to Forbes, some 82% of companies experience unplanned downtime in a year, with many companies having it happen more than once. An outage of just a few hours could take weeks to set straight. But with appropriate use of AI, it’s less likely to happen and easier and cheaper to fix.

5. Making Strategic Decisions

AI can give you a boost in synthesizing the outcomes of past decisions in order to make a plan for the future. Developers are often notorious for giving unreliable estimates around timelines and budgets, which makes a certain amount of sense. Humans tend to be over-optimistic in their predictions, and developers aren’t immune to that.

Artificial intelligence doesn’t have that problem. You can train AI on your past project results to get a better idea of how long a new piece of software might take or how many people a project needs. AI tools can also help point out bottlenecks or other pain points you might have missed.

What AI does for planning at the micro level can also be done at the macro level. AI can be used for big decisions like which business venture to focus on or to predict what the outcome of acquiring another company might be. The goal isn’t to have the computer make the final decision but rather to have a tool that can point out things you might have missed.

AI has the potential to help businesses reduce human bias and cognitive errors in all kinds of decisions. However, it is important to remember that the human beings who wrote the code for your AI may have encoded their own biases.

That’s why AI should be viewed more as a powerful tool than a perfect replacement for human knowledge and effort. AI still needs informed, savvy people telling it what to do – and sometimes, what not to do.

AI in Software Development

While both AI’s supporters and detractors can be a bit dramatic, this technology is already changing software development. It has the potential to make development a lot less tedious while conserving human energy for more complicated problems.

So how can developers take advantage of AI? By properly understanding what it is and isn’t and how it can be used as a tool. While the transition to a greater AI presence won’t always be smooth, there are a lot of potential upsides if developers can learn to work with it.

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