As artificial intelligence (AI) techniques advance, they are beginning to automate tasks that, until recently, only humans could perform—tasks such as translating text from one language to another or making medical diagnoses. It seems only logical to turn that computer power on computers themselves and use AI to automate programming.
In fact, computer scientists are working on just that idea, using various AI techniques to develop new methods of automating the writing of code. "The ultimate goal of this is that you would have professional software engineers not actually write code anymore," says Chris Jermaine, a professor of computer science at Rice University in Houston, TX. Instead, the engineer would tell a computer what a piece of software should do, and the AI system would write the code, perhaps stopping along the way to pose questions to the engineer. "A software engineer becomes much more of a designer than somebody who deals with the low-level details," Jermaine says.
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