Some Thoughts on GPT-3


Copilot and Chat GPT snippets have been making the rounds on Twitter and the tech press. Some folks say this is the next step in programming. I’m less optimistic.

A programmers typing speed isn’t usually the limiting factor on their productivity. Reading code, creating a mental model of the project are the bottlenecks. There are examples of GPT tools explaining code snippets. I’m not convinced that GPT can explain the greater context of a project and write code that fits in.

I do think GPT tools will be useful when applied to well understood common problems. Those tedious tasks are prime opportunities to remove error prone humans. But, when you are solving a novel problem, GPT won’t be able to reference existing code to generate new code.

It will likely have negative effects on the software industry. Junior developers learn to read and write code by working on well understood projects. When the workload of these projects gets shouldered by machines, the on ramp to more advanced development will become more steep.