Software Development Enters The AI Age
The global AI (Artificial Intelligence) software market is set to explode. The numbers may increase from around 9.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2018 to a whopping 118.6 billion by 2025. In fact, many of the top names in the tech industry are investing in AI-related R and D in a bid to embrace futuristic solutions.
With AI penetrating almost every space possible, how can software development be left behind? Several firms are looking to accelerate software development and testing functions by using the combined power of AI and ML (Machine Learning).
Here are some of the ways in which Software Development is undergoing a Massive Transformation in the AI-age:
- Coding Assistance – Clean code is the way to create stable software that is easy to maintain in the long-term. Both AI and ML make it possible to analyze the code and also, optimize it for better interpretation and performance. A case in point is that of AI-powered tools, which act as coding assistants. These tools come preloaded with learning culled from several thousands of coding rules and help developers fix their code. This cuts down the time for coding, brings to the table the most relevant coding instances, and helps developers. As an added benefit, developers can focus on more creative and intuitive tasks that drive innovation, rather than on repetitive or routine tasks.
- Rapid Prototyping – More often than not, coming up with a software product needs tremendous amounts of planning before putting thoughts into action. AI and ML can cut short that duration by offering rapid prototyping capabilities. Think in terms of automated decision-making, optimized development process, early technical validation of ideas and so on. Ergo, developers can easily develop new applications in a shorter time, improve applications quickly and also, deliver enhanced customer experiences.
- Bug Fixes – One of the key pillars of the process of software development is bug fixes. AI can completely transform this step. It can detect bugs using intelligent algorithms and without the need for any manual intervention. AI can identify high-risk areas of the code based on historical data or coding patterns. A focus on those areas can help find bugs faster. This also helps reduce the possibilities of bugs being overlooked or ignored by testers under time-pressure.
- Software Testing – Like bug fixing, with AI at the forefront, the days of manual testing may be transformed before long. AI can help easily track the common errors and flag them early in the development. AI can also help analyze the system logs to flag down errors and, in the future, the same could be used to make dynamic changes without any human assistance. Then there is the potential impact on test automation. AI can analyze the massive volume of test cases and define which are the best cases for automation based on their priority and “automatability”. It’s only a short stretch from there to AI being able to assemble the scripts needed to automate those test cases on the fly. As the product evolves, AI can also determine how the test cases, and hence the scripts, need to be changed. In essence, AI can automate the creation of test automation!
- Product Maintenance – From startups to corporates, a large part of the software development costs is spent on product maintenance. Oftentimes, even the redundant features of a software product are subjected to maintenance. This is costly and time-consuming. In the AI-age, it will be easy to identify such redundant features by scanning massive chunks of data. With intelligent automation, the process will be less complicated and less prone to errors as developers will not need to manually correlate the data from multiple sources. Any unrequired features and functionalities in the software and the associated code can be easily detected and removed if need be.
- Bridging the Skills Gap – There’s a lot of hue and cry over AI taking over manual jobs and making certain roles redundant. But then, on the bright side, AI tools and technique can also help speed up the development process by making it easier for developers to develop products using more automated means. They won’t have to learn a new set of skills (at least not immediately). They could use ready components that can put together with little or no coding with AI doing much of the heavy lifting in the background.
For instance, consider Bayou. Bayou generates code snippets for accessing APIs in Java. All the users need to do is “Ask Bayou” for what kind of program would help them address specific tasks in their programming. Bayou then, analyzes the code from the user and the query and delivers the right API idiom. This innovative application of Neural Networks was jointly developed by Rice University and DARPA. Bayou, and others like it, represent the vanguard of the “AI coders” movement that could simplify simple software development tasks.
It seems abundantly clear that AI will become a fundamental business practice offering real business advantage to various industries, including software development. The way we develop software may be set to get more automated, less intuition-driven, and more AI-led.