Every job will require some kind of coding

Dan O’Neill 2014-09-12 3 min read

I was in the middle of reading all the Indian summer tweets when I came across this from Silicon Replublic:

Huh, that’s a bit of a sweeping statement.

When I started writing this piece I was almost just going to write a huge list of jobs that will never involve writing any code. I was just going to embed the tweet, call bullshit, and list 200 jobs. But it turns out, that probably isn’t very constructive.

The problem is, that assumes that coding is not going to change or move on in the next 20 years. Or that the tools we use to do our jobs will actually get worse! That writing an application or building a website will still require the same amount of effort that we put into writing code as we currently do. That just wont happen. New languages, new concepts, new ideas, all of these will change what you actually need to build or design things. Tools are constantly getting better, not worse.

So will jobs change? Undoubtedly. Will everyone be coding away in the background? Definitely not. Should we give up teaching children to code? Absolutely not. The act of teaching a child to code is not about getting a child to memorise function structures and for loops and database interactions, it is fundamentally about problem solving. Being able to complete a set of tasks repeatedly by writing something once teaches you skills and concepts to solve other problems.

So I appreciate the goal, just not suggesting that everyone will be coding in 20 years.

I often wonder about what it means to live inside a “bubble”. I don’t remember the dot com bubble but I can imagine it was full of false promises, goals that weren’t feasible, and ideas that seemed good inside the bubble but if you were to ask a regular person on the street what they thought of it, it would seem a bit silly.

I think we’re in one now. It’s different to the ones that have gone before, though. It isn’t a housing bubble or a market bubble or even a tech bubble. It’s an ideas bubble. You can get up on a stage be it at TED or any number of conferences around the world and spread an idea. You don’t have to have a successful business, or real data behind it, just share your idea. People will like the video, clap at the right bits, and share in on.

I think it has a lot to do with fear of the unknown. Fear of the future. Manufacturing is in decline here in Ireland, as other countries can now staff the same high quality production lines as we could 10/20 years ago, and for less money. The government is pushing a “knowledge economy” and calling any job in a tech company a “high tech” job when they announce new jobs.

So what are we going to be doing? I don’t know. No-one knows. But the coding? If we have stagnated and building does require the same amount of effort as it does now? Well, it won’t be us doing it. There are legions of coders around the world who will and can do it cheaper and produce the same quality as we can. I don’t even need to name the countries - you already know them.

So either it won’t take as much effort as it does now or all of the coding will be done elsewhere but we wont be coding in every job. If we are, then something has gone wrong along the way, and our current set of businesses and our current developers have failed. Miserably.