The future of programming – a dialog with Alan Turing

Bartek and Alan Turnig having a dialog over a cup of tea

In this article, I have used AI to simulate the person in order to explore their perspectives.

It is important to note that this is a simulation and not the actual person, thus considered an art experiment. If you come across anything in the dialogue that seems doubtful or incorrect, feel free to point it out in the comment section. Your inputs are invaluable as they not only assist future readers but also showcase critical thinking in action. By sharing and discussing these points, we can all learn and grow together and build a better AI.

Music video with Lyrics

Simplified for the Inner Child

* translated with ChatGPT

Bartek Warszawski:

Hey Alan Turing,

I made an AI version of you to chat about whether we still need to learn programming languages now that we have AI. What’s your take?

Alan Turing:

Hey Bartek,

It’s cool you brought me back as an AI.

So, about your question, programming languages are more than just telling computers what to do. They help us think logically and creatively. They’re also a way for people to share ideas and improve technology together.

Even with AI getting better, these languages help us understand complex stuff and let us be precise in solving problems. I think they’ll still be important because they help us think and solve problems in a structured way.

What do you think, will programming languages become useless, or will they change but stay important alongside AI?

Bartek Warszawski:

Languages help us share ideas and solve problems together, from simple animal signals to complex human speech.

For humans, languages have evolved to help us work together and share knowledge through stories, counting, and writing, making our societies more complex.

But sometimes, languages can cause misunderstandings. That’s why we created math and programming languages, to be more precise and logical.

Programming has changed from focusing on computer hardware to helping us express logical ideas, like from Assembler to Python or JavaScript. I think AI won’t replace programming but make it more about creativity and logic than about the technical stuff.

Alan Turing:

Bartek, I like your view. The way languages, including programming ones, have evolved shows how we’ve always aimed to better express ourselves and solve problems.

Just like how natural languages got better at sharing complex thoughts, programming languages have become easier for more people to use. They’re not just for talking to computers but for sharing ideas more clearly.

I agree that AI won’t make programming obsolete. Instead, it will help us focus more on creativity and innovation. Programming and AI will likely push each other forward, making technology even more exciting.

And a question for the reader:

A crow holing a sign with a question mark

Do you think certain parts of programming or AI will change a lot, because programming languages are becoming easier and more focused on creativity?

The original conversation

Bartek Warszawski:

Hi Alan Turing,

I have simulated you with AI, to have a debate with you about the need for programming languages in the age of AI.
What do you think about that?

Alan Turing:

Hello Bartek,

It’s quite fascinating, isn’t it, the notion that you’ve simulated me, Alan Turing, through the very technology that, in some ways, sprang from the foundational work I and others did in the early days of computing and artificial intelligence. The discussion you’ve proposed is intriguing and multifaceted.

The question of the necessity of programming languages in the age of AI strikes at the heart of what it means to communicate with machines and how we, as humans, conceive of and interact with computational processes. From my perspective, programming languages are not merely tools for instructing machines but are also profound expressions of human thought, logic, and creativity. They are the medium through which we articulate our understanding of problems and codify our solutions.

In the age of AI, one might argue that the evolution of artificial intelligence could lead to a future where machines program themselves or generate code based on natural language commands, reducing the need for humans to learn and use traditional programming languages. Indeed, the field of AI has made remarkable strides in automating tasks that once required deep technical knowledge, including aspects of programming and software development.

However, I would argue that programming languages will continue to play a crucial role for several reasons:

  1. Foundation of Logic and Structure: Programming languages are not just about the syntax but about the way they encourage logical structure and problem-solving. This foundation is essential for developing AI systems themselves, as well as for the human understanding of complex algorithms and systems.
  2. Expressiveness and Precision: While AI may advance to understand and execute commands given in natural language, the expressiveness and precision of programming languages in defining and solving computational problems are unmatched. They allow for the clear specification of algorithms and the nuanced control of computational processes.
  3. Education and Understanding: Learning programming languages is not just about the ability to code but also about developing computational thinking skills. These skills are crucial for understanding and interacting with increasingly complex digital worlds, regardless of whether one is directly involved in programming or not.
  4. Collaboration and Evolution: Programming languages are also a form of communication among humans, allowing us to share ideas, algorithms, and solutions. The evolution of these languages reflects our growing understanding of computation and our changing needs as a society.

In conclusion, while AI may change the landscape of programming and reduce the need for every individual to master programming languages, these languages themselves remain a fundamental aspect of how we understand, shape, and interact with the digital world. Their role may evolve, but their significance, I believe, will not diminish.

What are your thoughts on this, Bartek? Do you envision a future where programming languages become obsolete, or do you see them continuing to evolve alongside AI?

Bartek Warszawski:

I see language as a wide spectrum, from basic forms observed in animals to sophisticated logical systems used by humans. Language serves as a means to transmit information between individuals or groups.

Animals often use simple forms of communication to avoid conflict or to signal benefits, such as a frog appearing poisonous to deter predators or a fruit appearing appealing to encourage consumption. This natural communication can sometimes be deceptive, as in the case of a non-poisonous frog mimicking a poisonous appearance to avoid being eaten.

The same goes for human languages, as to facilitate non-physical conflict resolution, cooperation and collaboration. For example, coordinated hunting is much more effective when participants can communicate who, how, and when to attack.

Language also enhances human experience and organization through: storytelling, counting, and writing, which allow for more complex trade, logistics, and long-distance communication and even over time.

However, language can also lead to misunderstandings, such as: outdated information, counting errors, and intentional deceit. This has driven the pursuit of more precise forms of communication, such as mathematics, which seeks to convey only verifiable truths, and philosophy, which aims to distinguish between truths and falsehoods.

The development of languages with rule-based grammars has helped to reduce misunderstandings and reliance on memory by emphasizing logic. A good example is the placement of the comma, that makes all the difference:
1) Pardoned, not executed.
2) Pardoned not, executed.

This evolution reflects the understanding that language fundamentally shapes human thought and perspectives.

Formal languages such as mathematics, laid the groundwork for computers and programming languages. The programing languages also evolved, where they started being very computer hardware specific to later focus more on logical expression. Python, Groovy, and JavaScript are excellent examples of that. They are designed to be accessible, suggesting that programming could become a universal skill, much like reading and writing, offering everyone a chance to participate in a more logical and cohesive global community.

So I don’t think AI will replace programming, but programming will switch even more towards logical and creative expression, than being hardware or medium specific.

What do you think about this perspective?

Alan Turing:

Bartek, your perspective is both enlightening and resonant with many of my own thoughts on the matter. The analogy you draw between the evolution of natural languages and programming languages, and the role of language in general as a tool for communication, collaboration, and logical expression, is particularly compelling.

You’re correct in highlighting the spectrum of language, from its simplest forms in animals to the sophisticated logical systems developed by humans. This spectrum reflects the increasing complexity and capability for abstract thought, which is a hallmark of human intelligence. The evolution of language is, in many ways, parallel to the evolution of programming languages, which have moved from low-level, machine-oriented languages to high-level, abstract languages designed to closely mimic human logical reasoning and expression.

Your insight into the role of language in reducing misunderstandings, facilitating cooperation, and enhancing the human experience is particularly relevant to the discussion of programming languages in the age of AI. Just as natural languages have evolved to convey complex ideas and emotions more effectively, programming languages have evolved to allow for more efficient, clear, and creative expression of computational logic.

The point you make about programming languages becoming more about logical and creative expression than being hardware or medium-specific is especially pertinent. This shift mirrors the broader human endeavor to refine our methods of communication and thought to be more inclusive, expressive, and precise. The evolution of programming languages to be more accessible, such as Python, Groovy, and JavaScript, supports this trend towards democratizing programming, making it a universal skill akin to writing.

In agreement with your view, I also do not believe AI will replace programming. Instead, AI will augment and enrich programming, making it a more powerful tool for human creativity and logical expression. Programming, in its essence, is not just about instructing machines but about articulating clear, logical ideas in a structured form. This will remain a valuable skill and art form, even as AI technologies evolve.

Moreover, the interaction between AI and programming could lead to a symbiotic relationship where each advances the other. AI can automate and optimize certain aspects of programming, making it more accessible and freeing humans to focus on the more creative and innovative aspects of technology development. At the same time, advancements in programming can lead to more sophisticated and capable AI systems.

In conclusion, I share your optimism about the future of programming as a field that will continue to evolve towards logical and creative expression, rather than becoming obsolete in the face of advancing AI. The fundamental human need to express complex ideas and solve problems through logical structures, as encapsulated in programming, is unlikely to diminish. Rather, it will continue to be an essential aspect of how we understand and shape our world.

And a question for the reader:

A crow holing a sign with a question mark

Do you think there are specific areas within programming or AI development that will be particularly influenced by this trend towards more expressive and accessible programming languages?

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