AI Tools — it’s a matter of perspective

March 15, 2024

"A new Under Armour commercial from production company Tool, created with the help of AI, has caused a stir in the production community, with some seeing it as a worrying new sign that directors could soon become superfluous"

Devin has people screaming that software development has months left. We saw this with Chat-GPT4 last year.

We saw this with Chat-GPT4 last year.

But if all these tools were just packaged as features in your existing software, with no mention of "AI", you wouldn't blink.

"Adobe After Effects lets you composite effects faster using our new styles presets."
"Adobe Premiere brings a new storyboard feature to help you plan from idea to shoot to production."
"VSCode introduces a new Planning feature to help you work out how to solve your problem by matching against a database of similar challenges from Github issues."

It's boring, but add AI there, and it's hot!

And when you look at the underlining story for the Under Armor ad, it is far more pragmatic, it is just another tool that lets us get to our creative intent.

Case in point: Github Copilot. Yes, people got worried when it came out, and the proclamations of software development would be over within months. Funnily, that hasn't happened.

I appreciate that the mood is low right now, with job losses over the last year and no real uptick. But that is down to human greed, not some rogue AI. The irony is that people are overhyping AI for that reason: to get financial investment.

The Devin launch screams like an ad to an investor—carefully selected demos and words. Like the "first world's software engineer, " if I were Copilot or ChatGPT, I would be upset that it claims to be the first software engineer. Those two have been writing code nonstop for years! And, of course, their hiring page has roles open for …software engineers. Clearly, they are not dogfooding their tool hard enough.

And that's the thing: it's just another interface that abstracts transcribing your intent into machine code.

In the digital space, we do so much manual work that we have to do again and again for past jobs and projects. How many more button components do I have to write? How many more edit page views? I don't want to have to create any more Figma styles or variables; there are so many clicks. I want 1000x boilerplate and scaffolding tools.

Github CoPilot has been great for reducing the keys I press to get to my intent. The better it gets at building the basics, the more time I can spend on the craft, the finesse of interactions, animations, and the overall UX, rather than having to spend weeks or months on basic CRUD screens.

The question remains: can you ask it to do anything worthwhile? Can you carefully direct and ask it to consider the right problems? This is true for software or design. We want more directing or craft. Not confusing grinding with work. (and yes, it is more challenging, but long term will be more rewarding)

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