November 29, 2023
min read

Will AI replace Software Engineers?

Krissy Davis

The concern about developers potentially being replaced by AI is a hot topic, and is currently being discussed on many platforms. While it’s an irrational worry — due to the increasing number of uses of AI in software development — we do need to take a closer look at what AI is currently capable of.

In this article, we’ll look at what AI can and cannot do, and how it will likely impact the livelihood of software developers. We’ll also share some insights about what developers actually think.

AI's role in software engineering

It’s pretty clear to us by now that AI is great at automating tasks such as testing, and debugging, thereby improving efficiency. It can also analyse code for vulnerabilities and suggest improvements and has the potential to develop more intelligent and sophisticated software. 

Here are some of the key areas where AI is having an impact:

  • Code generation and completion
  • Code review and testing
  • Debugging and problem-solving
  • DevOps and automation - Provisioning infrastructure, deploying code, and monitoring the performance of apps. 
  • Create intuitive user interfaces
  • Software maintenance 

As you can see, AI is mostly used in software engineering to enhance rather than replace human abilities. While AI is excellent at the monotonous and routine aspects of coding, it is not as creative or problem-solving as it needs to be for more complex and innovative software projects. More on this later.

How is AI beneficial for software engineering?

AI should be looked at as a positive rather than a negative. Its ability to automate repetitive tasks, improve code quality, enable new software development methodologies, and personalise the software development experience means human developers have time to focus on more complex tasks that AI just isn’t capable of. 

Look at AI as a tool. Something that can complement your skills and enhance your productivity. However, as AI evolves, we will definitely see more transformative applications. So it’s best not to get too comfortable in your current role (more on that further down). 

AI's overall impact on software engineers

To give a fair picture of how AI affects software engineers, let's examine the advantages as well as the drawbacks.

The negative effects of AI can be:

  • Outdated skills: Some of the conventional skills used by software engineers are losing importance as AI takes over basic coding chores. AI cannot readily manage new skills like system design or technology integration, so engineers must pick them up.
  • Risks to jobs: Because AI can perform certain tasks more quickly and effectively, software engineers — especially those who specialise in fundamental coding — may have fewer jobs overall. According to McKinsey, automation might put up to 7.5 million development-related professions in danger worldwide.
  • Less creativity: There is worry that the work may shift from being creative problem solvers to being more about controlling and adjusting AI outputs as AI takes over more of the coding. For those developers that relish the creative aspect of coding, this could make the job less interesting.

And these are some of the positive effects:

  • New employment opportunities: AI is not limited to automation; it is also generating new employment in machine learning, data science, and cybersecurity. Deeply understanding AI and being able to apply it to practical issues are needed in these sectors.
  • Increasing productivity: Copilot from GitHub and other AI assistants enable software engineers to produce work more quickly and with fewer errors. As such, they may devote more time to the challenging aspects of projects, such as developing fresh concepts or resolving intricate issues.
  • Better learning and collaboration: AI is undoubtedly revolutionising the way software engineers collaborate and learn. AI-powered tools facilitate the acquisition of new abilities by customising learning to each individual's requirements and speed. AI enhances code reviews, finds problems, and even simulates pair programming, which facilitates teamwork — especially when members are dispersed.
  • Working across domains: AI can be widely applied outside of the tech industry. Software engineers can thus work on initiatives in healthcare, finance, and even environmental technology, which can include more than just writing code.

For software engineers, AI brings challenges like the need to continuously improve skills and potential job shifts. However, it also offers opportunities to work more creatively across different sectors. The key is for software engineers to see AI as a tool that enhances their work, not as a threat.

When Is It Time To Change Jobs? → 

Will AI replace software engineers?

While some of the work that developers used to do is now being automated by AI, most developers don’t expect to be unemployed any time soon. See what developers think to get a more in-depth reasoning behind why AI won't completely replace software engineers:

1. First, flexibility

Because the field is always evolving, we software developers have to constantly learn new technologies and methods. AI is currently unable to match human engineers' ability for invention and technology adaptability, even though it can automate some tasks, which is really useful. Human engineers in this quickly expanding field need to be able to think quickly and adjust direction in response to new trends and unanticipated challenges.

2. Humans are needed to solve complex problems

Software development, beyond simple programming, is basically about solving challenging problems. This demands a deep understanding of intricate requirements and the ability to interpret little details that frequently vary from one project to the next. Although AI technologies can help with some parts of this process, but they can't fully understand or handle the complex and often subjective aspects that skilled engineers regularly manage.

3. Innovation and creativity

For innovative software engineering, one needs to have technical mastery, creativity, and a profound understanding of how people use technology. Human engineers are still very much needed for their creativity and insight, even if AI may assist with automation and data-driven discoveries. It's important to bear in mind that these human traits motivate creative software solutions that users find understandable and entertaining. And, it doesn't seem very probable that these attributes will be replaced anytime soon.

4. Ethics and oversight

As all developers are aware, software development must address ethical issues and be monitored to ensure that programs are legal and ethically aligned with user and societal needs. AI, however, operates only as programmed and lacks the capacity for moral reasoning and understanding necessary to make decisions that adhere to human values and legal standards.

5. The technical part

Many engineers find AI useful for augmenting their skills rather than replacing them. As was already noted, the majority of these technologies are intended to streamline specific procedures so that engineers can concentrate more on the innovative parts of development that need for human involvement.

6. Trust and dependability

Reliability and trust are fundamental concerns in software engineering, especially in critical sectors like healthcare, banking, and public safety. Even with AI solutions, human engineers must verify their accuracy. People tend to trust software systems because they know human experts have reviewed and approved them. This level of reassurance isn't available with purely AI-driven solutions.

7. Regulating and accountability issues

Significant regulatory and accountability challenges arise when AI is integrated into software development. Current regulations may not fully address the new issues created by AI technologies. We urgently need clear guidelines and frameworks to manage how AI is used in software development, especially concerning data privacy, security, and ethics. Human expertise is essential to navigate the legal side of things and ensure that AI solutions comply with international standards.

Recommendations for Software Engineers

Embrace AI as a tool to enhance your skills and use it to become more productive. While there's concern about AI replacing some jobs, or rather, certain tasks, it's very unlikely to replace high-value developers with comprehensive and innovative skills.

If you focus on building sophisticated and creative solutions, it becomes much less likely that your skills will end up irrelevant. You should stay up-to-date with the latest in AI, as this field is constantly evolving. Remember, adaptation is one of the unique skills that is hard to replace! If you appreciate that AI can complement your unique human skills, you’ll always be well sought after as a developer.

Here are some tips for preparing for an AI future (Because it’s here to stay!):

  1. Learn about AI and what it is used for: Take courses, read books, and attend conferences. 
  1. Develop AI skills, and become more employable: Develop machine learning, data science, and cybersecurity skills.
  1. Stay up-to-date; the pace of change is fast: Read industry publications on the latest AI technologies and trends.
  1. Embrace the change: Be willing to adapt to the new skills and technologies required in this new AI-driven industry. This attitude will take you far.


You’d be silly to think AI won’t affect dev jobs. Unfortunately, these intelligent machines will likely replace low-level or entry-level developers who aren’t yet skilled in more complicated tasks. It’s also safe to say that with the rapid advancement of AI, there’s potential for other more complex roles to succumb to the pressures of artificial intelligence. 

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. By embracing AI, staying informed about its latest developments and learning about this exciting technology, software engineers can adapt and continue to contribute their unique human creativity and expertise to the field.

Will AI replace Software Engineers?

November 29, 2023
min read

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