Smaller barriers to entry, bigger possibilities

James Somer, A Coder Considers the Waning Days of the Craft | The New Yorker:

In chess, which for decades now has been dominated by A.I., a player’s only hope is pairing up with a bot. Such half-human, half-A.I. teams, known as centaurs, might still be able to beat the best humans and the best A.I. engines working alone. Programming has not yet gone the way of chess. But the centaurs have arrived. GPT-4 on its own is, for the moment, a worse programmer than I am. Ben is much worse. But Ben plus GPT-4 is a dangerous thing.

Simon Willison on the same:

I think AI assisted programming is going to shave a lot of the frustration off learning to code, which I hope brings many more people into the fold

We’ve entered the age of AI-powered coding, writing, speaking, and painting centaurs.

If we play our cards right, we will lower barriers to entry and raise the ceiling of possibility to new levels. If more people can create in mediums that are considered specializations now, that might open allow experts to go deeper in their specialization or branch out into areas that were inaccessible without compromising their specialization.

The idea of a dilettante, a person who cultivates an area of interest, such as the arts, without real commitment or knowledge, might become acute or obsolete. We might end up with a new level of “yuck that looks some amateurish and generated”. Or we might end up with reviews like “the artist deftly combines generated and hand-drawn sketches with procedurally generated music modeled on their own previous album I Play Pianos, By Hand, Like Duke Did”.

Of course, we’ve heard this story before and famed economist Keynes is (infamous?) for predicting mechanical automation would all have us exploring our favorite hobbies at this point. So, we gotta play our cards right.

Adam Keys @therealadam