- More than two-thirds of developers are currently using AI or plan to use it to build software, according to a Stack Overflow report released last week. The company surveyed almost 90,000 engineers globally.
- One-third of developers believe increased productivity is the greatest upside to enhancing the software creation process with AI, according to the survey. One-quarter say the greatest advantage to the technology is faster learning.
- Trust in the accuracy of AI outputs remains an obstacle for wider deployment, as more than one-quarter of surveyed developers distrust AI's ability to produce accurate results.
AI applications are seeping into every part of technology production, as companies chase the potential benefits of automation. For developers to fully embrace the tools, one critical obstacle is trust.
AI must win over a significant portion of the developer population, as 2 in 5 only somewhat trust in the technology's output. Nearly one-third has a neutral view, neither trusting nor distrusting AI-generated code, according to the survey.
Microsoft has been working for years to provide some of that AI-generated output, thanks to the 2021 launch of GitHub's Copilot. The offering has since evolved to include OpenAI's Codex model, with more security features and a version tailored to business needs.
Another barrier to wider adoption is the complexity of the solutions, according to Joy Liuzzo, VP, Product Marketing at Stack Overflow.
"What executives need to remember is that these tools are good for getting coding started or in support of new developers, but they have a complexity cliff," said Liuzzo in an email. "After a certain point, the ability for AI to handle all the nuances and interdependencies of a solution drops off."
The outputs of AI are only as good as the prompts a human can give them. It's why leadership must remember to keep humans involved throughout the process, Liuzzo said.
Amid widespread impact of AI on the business, some companies can appoint a chief AI officer to help guide the deployment of the technology through the business, including how new tools can shape software development. But this type of role is only a good fit with organizations that are already advanced in their AI journey.
As more automation is baked into the software building process, the developer ecosystem continues to grapple with diversity and inclusion issues. Stack Overflow itself faced backlash after it stopped asking respondents for their gender in this year's survey, a change first reported by Wired. The 2022 edition of the poll had put male participation at 92%.
Liuzzo said the company chose to remove the question of gender over privacy concerns amid "the increasingly complex regulatory environment and the highly international nature of the survey."
"We continue to invest in tools, features, and partnerships to make our platform more inclusive," Liuzzo said.