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O fim da codificação como base da tecnologia

A Inteligência Artificial vai codificar por nós, em algum momento ali adiante, em não mais do que 10 anos, máximo. E isso vai ser bom para todo mundo.

14 de julho de 2020 - 8h00

A necessidade de codificar para que se tenha um software ou um aplicativo ou qualquer serviço, plataforma ou solução digital em funcionamento está se encaminhando para seu fim. Codificar vai virar história, em breve.

Para muitas empresas, há já hoje uma série de ferramentas e plataformas prontas, que funcionam como um atalho para a necessidade de codificação, sendo possível montar uma empresa do zero na internet, com inúmeras funcionalidades digitais tecnologicamente complexas, sem termos que desenvolver uma única linha de código.

Monta-se um Frankenstein, pedaço por pedaço, é verdade, mas um Frankestein que manda super bem as tarefas que precisa entregar.

Sobre esse tema, reproduzo abaixo um artigo do Klive Thompson, publicado na última Wired. Vale a pena ler.

Mas vou um pouquinho mais além do Klive.

A Inteligência Artificial vai codificar por nós, em algum momento ali adiante, em não mais do que 10 anos, máximo.

Hoje já existem sistemas de AI que desenvolvem pedaços mais simples de códigos, mas são mega-embrionários. No entanto, como tudo no mundo da Inteligência Artificial, esses sistemas vão evoluir, aprendendo curiosamente, em princípio, com os próprios codificadores, e mais adiante, aprendendo consigo mesmos e com seus próprios aprendizados (leia aqui um artigo sobre isso).

É um caminho sem volta.

Será o fim dos codificadores? Possivelmente não, porque todos esses sistemas funcionam sozinhos para a parte hard da codificação, mas não tem a menor ideia do que estão fazendo, nem para o que aquilo que estão fazendo serve.

Serão ainda os codificadores e desenvolvedores de softwares que seguirão criando as tarefas e encaixando as máquinas e seus algoritmos criados por elas mesmas na realidade da vida e da sociedade.

Mas essa evolução muda muita coisa. Será um marco na evolução tecnológica digital e nas nossas vidas, porque máquinas vão certamente codificar com muito mais rapidez e precisão que seres humanos.

Todos nos beneficiaremos disso. Até os coders.

——

NO CODE, NO PROBLEM

Now you don’t need to know any programming to launch a startup. We’ve been approaching this moment for years.

BY CLIVE THOMPSON

Dani Bell was a British copywriter who hankered for her own marketing startup. Like many founders today, though, she faced a roadblock. She couldn’t code.

Normally, an entrepreneur in that situation would need to spend money, and maybe even raise it, to hire developers. But Bell did something different: She bolted together software from various online services.

Bell used a point-and-click tool called Webflow to build her site and a client-management tool to let customers order services. Airtable, an online spreadsheet, let her store details about each job. And she glued many of these pieces together by cleverly using Zapier, a service that uses if-then logic to let one online app trigger another. (Whenever Bell creates a new task for one of her contractors, for example, Zapier automatically generates a Google doc for it, then pings her on Slack when the work is done.) Nineteen months later, her company—Scribly.io—had around 23 clients and was doing $25,000 a month in recurring business.

In essence, Bell built a startup without writing a line of code. She did it all herself, aided by advice from folks building the same scrappy systems. Sure, it’s a bit of a Rube Goldberg machine. “They’re a patchwork,” Bell admits. But overall, it’s “good enough, and usually good enough is perfectly OK.” In the long run, she might get big enough to hire a coder to make a custom system. But, for now, it works.

Behold the trend known as “no code” (or “low code”). In the past few years there’s been a flowering of tools like those Bell used, all aimed at the nonprogramming masses.

“I code. But it’s tedious. I feel like it’s not reasonable to expect, you know, the vast majority of the population to be careful with their commas.”

It neatly inverts the cultural logic around programming and its unique value. A decade ago the rallying cry “Learn to code” emerged. The key to tech-fueled entrepreneurship—and its promise of independence and possible riches—was in learning to sling JavaScript or Python. Boot camps bloomed.

Nuts to that, say the proponents of no-code. “Coding sucks,” laughs Emmanuel Straschnov, cofounder of Bubble, a service that offers a suite of tools for nontechies to build apps. “I mean, I code. But it’s tedious. I feel like it’s not reasonable to expect, you know, the vast majority of the population to be careful with their commas.” Indeed, one measure of social progress is how well we automate complex skills for normies, he argues. We became competent photographers not by honing our skills at hand-developing film but by using iPhones with filters.

The emergence of no-code is, in a sense, the ur-pattern of software. We’ve been drifting this way for years. Websites at first were laboriously hand-coded, until blogging CMSs automated it—and blogging exploded. Putting video online was a gnarly affair until YouTube rendered it frictionless—and vlogging exploded. As no-code advances, “the amount of products is just going to skyrocket,” argues Nate Washington, an Atlanta entrepreneur who used the Bubble tool to help create the first version of Qoins, an app that helps people pay off debt by automatically rounding up on purchases and sending the money to creditors. Four years later, Qoins has helped users pay off $11 million in debt.

As with all plenitude, we’ll get a flood of silly startup ideas and only a few great ones. But no-code could be an even bigger deal for more mature firms. For example, Eric Astor, founder of the vinyl-album-pressing company Furnace, has long run his business on FileMaker Pro (an early no-code tool, really). Lately he’s started outfitting his presses with IoT sensors, then using a new low-code tool called Claris Connect to autoreport their conditions. “We’re capturing data that only big companies used to be able to afford,” Astor tells me. “We’re still a ragtag shop; we don’t have the budget to go and hire consultants.”

One could criticize no-code for not offering the flexibility and nuance you can get by writing your own code, line by line. But the truth is, for all the hoopla about Silicon Valley’s innovative genius, a huge number of apps don’t do much more than awfully simple things. Seriously: Silicon Valley’s main trick is just shoving things into a database and pulling them out again. I’m exaggerating, but only a bit.

The success of no-code startups may thus be a useful corrective to the cult of the Brilliant Tech Dude. If nearly anyone can do this, some of the magic dies. And some new magic, possibly, is born..

CLIVE THOMPSON (@pomeranian99) is aWIRED contributing editor. Write to him at clive@clivethompson.net.

 

 

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