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Builders Are Happier But What Happens When AI Takes Over

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article discusses the author's reflections on their experience with hacking and building software, particularly in the context of the emerging use of large language models (LLMs) and AI agents in software engineering. It explores the author's thoughts on the changing nature of software development and the potential impact on the satisfaction and fulfillment that builders derive from the craft.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] The author's experience with hacking and building software

1. What are the author's thoughts on their experience with hacking and building software?

  • The author enjoys the act of building things, whether they are "silly things" or anything else, and finds it engaging and fulfilling, though they don't fully understand the reasons behind this.
  • The author has noticed a difference between "builders" who love building things and "LARPers" who may not find the same level of satisfaction in it.
  • The author has been working a lot with LLMs and AI agents, both for fun and as part of their consulting work, and has had a mix of experiences - sometimes it feels "like pure magic" and other times it feels like a "chore that spirals out to sheer frustration", particularly when the models are "built to be apologetic by default".

[02] The author's thoughts on the future of software engineering

1. How does the author view the future of software engineering in the context of LLMs and AI agents?

  • The author believes that the use of LLMs and AI agents in software engineering is a sign of things to come, and that the "first ripple in the ocean has been triggered".
  • The author notes that many people in the industry are starting to feel this shift, and that the progress has been steady in making prompting more like software engineering than "witchcraft".
  • The author wonders what will happen when the "thrill of building goes away" and software engineering becomes more about "the art of prompting and assembling the results generated by specialised LLMs". The author is unsure whether the satisfaction and dopamine rush from solving problems with code will be as rewarding as it is now.
  • The author acknowledges that this shift will benefit businesses, but is uncertain about the impact on software engineers and their sense of fulfillment from the craft.

2. How does the author view the role of software engineering in the context of solving business problems?

  • The author has always viewed software engineering as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself, particularly in a professional setting where the goal is to solve business problems.
  • The author notes that while they love building software, they have always seen it as a way to create things that people enjoy using, rather than as the ultimate goal.
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