What will programmers have to know by 2040?

September 27, 2013 at 1:38 am 5 comments

Interesting claim below.  Do we believe that being able to build a JIT compiler will be a critical threshold for programming in 2040?  Or will programming become so much a literacy, that there will be people who can just write grocery lists and letters to Grandma and there will be Shakespeares?  I’m predicting a broader spread, not a higher bar.

The FizzBuzz problem described below is pretty interesting, a modern day version of the Rainfall problem.  I will bet that the results claimed for FizzBuzz are true, but I haven’t seen any actual studies of it yet.

While that may be true today, what will matter far more in the future is the quality of programmers, not the quantity. Any programmer who can’t hack together a JIT compiler in 2040 will be as useless as a programmer who can’t solve FizzBuzz today.

via Neil Fraser: News: Programming TNG.

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. iamleeg  |  September 27, 2013 at 2:13 am

    My intuition would be that most programmers in 2040 won’t need to write JITs for the same reason most programmers today don’t need to write JITs: there already exist a small fraction of programmers who write JITs that the rest of us can use.

    The prediction quoted above is dystopic because it predicts the bar to entry will be higher and therefore the field becomes more exclusive. But it’s also dystopic because it implies that existing strategies for reusing platforms and objects from other programmers will have disappeared.

    Reply
  • 2. alfredtwo  |  September 27, 2013 at 8:08 am

    As someone who has been programming for 40 years now I think the idea of predicting what programming standards will be beyond a year is an exercise in futility. I have seen too many predictions fall by the wayside in the face of reality. There was a time when people thought we’d be programming in English by now. Or that AI would allow programs to write themselves long before now. Personally I would expect JIT compilers to be replaced by 2040 by some technology currently being developed in some lab somewhere.

    Reply
  • 3. Erik Engbrecht  |  September 27, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    I suspect there’s a certain amount of facetiousness in Neil Fraser’s post… The funny thing about all those programmers who can’t write FizzBuzz is that many of them are today employed as programmers.

    The other funny thing is that a lot of people are employed as programmers doing table calculations. In fact, when the tables get big enough, it’s called “big data” and becomes one of the hottest (or at least most hyped) fields.

    Reply
    • 4. Seth Chaiken  |  September 28, 2013 at 10:32 am

      I think we should observe how older fields of science and technology education and practice evolved. Say in mathematics, everyone starts with the same basics as kids, more advanced topics slowly filter down from research, to grad courses, undergrad. courses and even high school (example: when calculus is taught) and the experts work on different problems from generation to generation.

      The engineers who refined the best steam engines and today’s energy engineers working on nanotechnology batteries and solar cells started at the same place in physics: Newton’s laws and how to apply them.

      Reply
      • 5. gasstationwithoutpumps  |  September 28, 2013 at 2:06 pm

        Seth, solar cells rely on quantum mechanics, not Newtonian physics.

        Reply

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