Published on October 23, 2023, 1:25 pm

TL;DR: Generative AI tools have the potential to transform software development and engineering by eliminating repetitive tasks, but experts have differing opinions on its impact. Some believe it will replace traditional practices, while others see it as a complementary tool to enhance human capabilities. The use of generative AI in code generation raises concerns about bugs, security errors, vulnerabilities, and copyright infringement. Businesses need to consider the long-term value and risks associated with investing in AI-enabled development. Decision-makers should establish responsible guidelines, involve cross-functional teams, and prioritize education to ensure innovation while protecting their businesses from liabilities.

Generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools are generating significant hype in the world of software development and engineering. These tools have the potential to boost productivity by eliminating repetitive tasks that often slow IT professionals down. However, experts are divided on the impact of generative AI on the future of software development.

Some experts believe that the rise of generative AI could lead to the end of traditional software development and engineering practices. The tremendous potential of generative AI in the engineering realm is undeniable, but it also presents challenges for enterprises and engineers. They must navigate its impact on their roles, business strategies, data, solutions, and product development. The question then arises: What does the future hold for bringing generative AI into the world of software?

According to Jarrod Phipps, CIO at auto specialist Holman, a sense of perspective is crucial when considering generative AI. While tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and GitHub Copilot have the power to transform the work activities of developers and engineers, this transformation won’t happen overnight. Phipps likens generative AI to an exoskeleton that strengthens, speeds up, and enhances human capabilities. It is meant to complement rather than replace human IT professionals. The aim is to wrap an AI-powered exoskeleton around developers to make them more efficient at writing code.

Phipps emphasizes that he is interested in how these tools can guide the development process while still allowing developers creative responsibility and full control over their work. He believes that having a personal assistant for software developers within enterprises is a logical step forward.

However, Phipps doesn’t envision a time when generative AI will write all code independently without human involvement. Mukul Agrawal, director of technology at Vistaprint, shares this sentiment. While acknowledging that some tasks might be replaced by AI in the future, he firmly believes that people will not be replaced entirely by AI.

For big tech-focused organizations like Vistaprint, AI-enabled software development and engineering will eventually become beneficial. However, Agrawal highlights two key obstacles: costs and risks. Businesses need to consider the long-term value of investing in AI and be cautious about data privacy, especially when it comes to protecting valuable intellectual property.

Avivah Litan, distinguished VP analyst at Gartner, recognizes both the potential benefits and risks associated with generative AI in code generation productivity increases. She points out that bugs, security errors, vulnerabilities, and potential copyright infringements are significant challenges that need addressing before these tools can be safely used in an enterprise context. Consequently, senior managers should start educating their personnel about the opportunities and risks associated with generative AI.

While many CIOs currently keep generative AI tools away from production environments, it might not be long before IT professionals start using them for specific elements of the software development process. Omer Grossman, global CIO at CyberArk, advocates for business leaders to make decisions regarding the use of generative AI in areas like software development and engineering rather than being overly risk-averse. He suggests establishing responsible guidelines that promote innovation while ensuring security.

Grossman emphasizes the importance of having a cross-functional team comprising not only technology experts but also legal professionals who can assess risks effectively. Regular meetings ensure that requests related to AI are addressed promptly and responsibly. Education becomes a crucial part of companies’ responsibility towards their employees as new services and features continue to emerge from generative AI vendors.

Generative AI presents incredible opportunities but also requires careful consideration of its downsides. As business executives adopt a more agile mindset focused on responsible innovation, they can harness the potential of generative AI while protecting their businesses from potential liabilities.

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