ChatGPT is all the hype these days. Everyone is going on about how awesome it is and how it will take over the world. But is it really up to the hype? Can it take over my job as a developer today?
Using AI to aid in software development is not new. GitHub copilot is already well entrenched and speeds up development by predicting what you want to type next. It works, but it is not really that smart. So is ChatGPT the smart coder we’ve been waiting for?
What is ChatGPT?
To recap, ChatGPT is a powerful language model developed by OpenAI that can assist developers in a variety of ways. One of the main ways it can assist is by generating natural-sounding text, which can be used to create chatbots, virtual assistants, and other language-based applications.
One of the key features of ChatGPT is its ability to understand and respond to context. This means that it can generate text that is relevant to the conversation or task at hand. For example, a developer can use ChatGPT to create a chatbot that can answer customer inquiries about a product or service. The chatbot can use ChatGPT to understand the customer’s question and generate a relevant response.
That’s pretty nifty, but does it truly understand code? Understanding context and intent is at the heart of artificial intelligence (AI). So how do we use this to make a software developer’s life easier?
Another way ChatGPT can directly assist developers is by generating code. With its ability to understand programming languages and concepts, ChatGPT can generate code snippets or complete programs in a variety of languages. This can save developers a lot of time and effort, as they no longer have to manually write code for certain tasks. The caveat here is to not expect it to write an entire application, but rather individual functions, or building blocks.
Is it the magic bullet coders have been waiting for?
I have tested it out on a number of different languages, and it gets it right, most of the time. It is not perfect, however. It makes mistakes and introduces bugs, so any code generated needs serious scrutiny.
I find it pretty good at optimizing code and spotting potential issues. I have given it some code I was struggling to debug, and it pinpointed the issue pretty quickly. Similarly, it is good ad reformatting code to be more readable, and I can see it becoming a “code formatter on steroids” in any developer’s toolbox pretty soon.
Integrating ChatGPT into our dev stack is still a way off, so for now we all interact with ChatGPT in manual mode. This puts the brakes on any serious efficiency gains right out of the starting blocks.
The bottom line is, yes, it’s going to make my life as a coder easier, by allowing me to be better at what I already do. It’s not going to make me faster (for now), as I still need to review every line of code it generates. That will change as the tech matures, but for now, it is a coding sidekick, not a junior dev.
Where does it hit the sweet spot?
ChatGPT can also be used for data analysis, such as generating summaries or reports from large sets of data. With its ability to understand and extract relevant information from text, ChatGPT can help developers and data scientists quickly and easily make sense of large amounts of data. This is a huge boost for anyone manually processing big data sets, and I expect a lot of change to come in the data science world in the next year or two as this technology goes mainstream.
In summary, ChatGPT is a powerful language model that can assist developers in many ways, such as creating chatbots and virtual assistants, generating code, and analyzing data. It’s a tool that can greatly speed up the development process and help developers create more accurate and sophisticated applications.