AI will make coding skills more valuable, not less, and it’s more important than ever for kids to learn them

The year 2024 will continue to see the long-awaited rise of generative AI in many aspects of life. Every day we see news about the latest tools and developments to help with our needs, from generating a shopping list to coding a program. AI promises a bright future, an exciting prospect that also comes with fears that the technology will replace humans and eliminate jobs. While this future is further away than many claim, two facts remain true: AI and its rapid growth present more opportunities rather than dangers, and we must continue teaching our children to code so they can take advantage of the freedom of creativity. that AI provides.

Generative AI is powered by LLM or big language models. It learns by combining the prompts and queries you enter with information available from many sources, including the web. Generative AI can create a code base with a simple message, but it still needs an engineer or programmer to verify that code, understand what needs to be modified, and then apply it in the correct context and use it in a program. AI frees the programmer from debugging and instead allows them to focus on creativity. It allows us to reinvent a better wheel, a wheel that more people can access and benefit from.

With that in mind, consider the benefits of learning to code in our increasingly technological world. Instead of having to spend hours of courses learning the code base, we are free to be creative, think critically, and problem solve. With easier access to generating initial code, our children face lower barriers to learning how to use code to solve the problems of today and tomorrow. They can collaborate, communicate and create more freely. The power of learning to code is in the intangible skills of analyzing a problem piece by piece and approaching it in different ways to find a solution. Coding is one of the best means to combine problem solving and technology.

For example, let’s take the case where you need to use generative AI to compose an email. You wouldn’t just copy and paste what your message produces; I would read it carefully, evaluate word choice and tone, and then make edits to ensure accuracy. You would integrate your personal voice and reformat the AI ​​results for consistency and style. AI provides the starting point, but you are ultimately responsible for the final product. You use your critical thinking and creativity skills to apply the generated results in the way you want and need.

Teaching our children to code ensures that they can focus on their best work by being creative, tinkering, and problem-solving. They won’t have to spend hours repeatedly starting from scratch or redoing work that’s already been done.

Coding jobs will evolve as AI improves

This also leads to the idea that not all coding jobs will be eliminated, but will simply evolve. Today’s programming positions require an intensive number of hours to learn and master the coding languages ​​required for a specific job (i.e. Python, C#, etc.). This requirement for highly specialized knowledge to be qualified for a job will disappear as AI continues to improve. Learning to code will still be essential in the future, but the knowledge and training a programmer needs will shift to knowing how to leverage tools and programs created by AI, rather than the hundreds of hours required to master a specific programming language. .

While there is a long way to go for a generative AI tool to be 100% accurate and error-free, there will be a time in the future when AI becomes the everyday tool to sustain our lives. Furthermore, for every disruptive tool or invention, there are new jobs to improve and maintain those creations. In the world of programming, there will always be a need for those who understand the code that drives the technology we use.

In February, when Google’s Gemini AI was asked to generate an image of a 19th-century US senator, the results were incorrect and comical: Users reported images ranging from a group of Asian men dressed in Western period costumes to Native American women in their traditional costumes. suit. Google engineers with the right programming skills had to fix the logic and data that the AI ​​uses. How many other times have we seen so-called advanced generative AI tools require corrections or removal of false statements in the last year alone?

The rise of AI presents unparalleled opportunities to innovate and expand our technological capabilities. By integrating AI into our lives, we free ourselves from the limitations of specialized knowledge, allowing us to focus on creativity and problem solving. To fully reap the benefits of AI, we must continue to teach our children the invaluable skills of coding. By doing so, we prepare them to thrive in a future where technology and creativity go hand in hand. Embrace AI and inspire the next generation to innovate and create like never before.

Ed Kim is vice president of education and training at Code Ninjas, the global leader in coding education for kids, where students learn to combine creativity and technology in a game-based learning environment to prepare for their future.

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