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URL:  https://boards.fool.com/casciman-great-post-being-a-history-buff-your-33044490.aspx

Subject:  Re: OT: The Future of Programming Date:  4/20/2018  6:48 PM
Author:  FlixFool Number:  93228 of 117900

Casciman,

Great post! Being a history buff, your story of being at SRI during the ARPANET days growing up during the infancy of C and UNIX fascinates me!

While not a programmer, I too know a lot about programmers, but more from current times. I'm a UNIX System Administrator. Well, not really anymore, because virtualization, automation, and the cloud are rapidly making that a dying profession as well, therefore I must adapt or die. But I digress.


Programmers come in many stripes. ... Some are not really that bright. Others are smart but misdirected. Most lack personal awareness skills. Once in awhile you run into somebody who can do the nerd work and also work with actual people. Some are as verbal as anybody on this board. But that is unusual.
...
Top coders, who eventually turn into team leaders, who can actually verbalize, are worth their weight. These people are hard to find and need to be paid a lot of money because they make a difference.
...
If you have a smart kid then you simply can’t go wrong directing that person to software development. I’ve helped many in this regard and their results have been fabulous. It’s not for everybody. Most simply are not smart enough. We are way out at the far right of the Bell Curve, where only males exist, it appears.


In many ways things haven't changed. I wouldn't go so far as to say "where only males exist", though. While we are still a majority, women are catching up. We have a fairly high ratio of women at my company, many of them immigrants, mostly from India, but a few from China as well. They are are as smart as, and in some cases smarter than, many of the guys in the company. But that's almost irrelevant.

The bigger change I've seen has been the extreme specialization of programmers. I recall when I could go speak with a developer back when C and C++ were the primary development languages. They understood application environment and the various contexts in which their code needed to operate. They could think in scale; how is my application going to work on my desktop vs. the much beefier systems in production, etc.

Java has ruined software developers. They now know (and care) about nothing outside the JVM. If it runs find on their laptop that's good enough. Toss it over the wall and let the operations people figure out why it doesn't work in QA, Staging, or Production, I have more lines of code to write!

We have people developing applications for the internet who have absolutely no idea how the internet works. They're completely oblivious of how packets transit the network, how one system can figure out where another one is in order to send it data or retrieve data to it, etc.

I believe a lot of this is the result of dumbing down computers. Part of it Microsoft's fault, much of it Java's. We've made software development so formulaic that for the large majority that I run into, there is no more than boiler-plate copy-and-pasting to their code. Obviously this doesn't apply to all of them. There are still some truly brilliant coders out there. But they are becoming more and more rare. And, as you pointed out, they're worth their weight for sure! Especially the innovative and imaginative ones!

I do think at some point software development will cease to be the lucrative position it is now. It will likely be several more decades before that happens, we are still in the infancy of this industry. And I think AI will change things dramatically. It will likely result in only the smartest of the smart remaining in the profession as AI becomes smarter than our dumbest developers, and then our smart ones, and then our pretty smart ones. And so on up the ladder until you're only left with those who are smart enough to develop AI itself!

Anyway, thanks for bringing this up. It's a topic near and dear to my heart. And career :)

--
Paul
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