“64% of Software Developers Use GenAI For Work”: Docker

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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • A survey by Docker suggests many developers view generative AI positively, appreciating its aid in completing work and allowing them to focus on important matters.
  • 65% of developers perceive AI positively, with 61% finding it beneficial for their job and 55% aiding in task prioritization.
  • However, some developers express skepticism, fearing AI as a job threat (23%) or complicating their tasks (19%).
  • Despite concerns about job losses, 45% feel AI may be overhyped.

Today, cloud platform provider Docker released findings from the Docker AI Trends Report 2024, which surveyed over 1,300 developers worldwide, processed 885 completed surveys, and found that artificial intelligence, and generative AI in particular, were becoming a large part of a typical software developer’s workflow.

Most notably, the report found that 64% of developers were leveraging AI for work. Out of these respondents, 33% used it for coding, 29% for documentation, 28% for research, 23% for writing tests, and 21% for troubleshooting and debugging.

Nahid Samasami, Vice President of developer experience at Docker, reported that the survey “…Clearly demonstrates that AI is not merely a trend but a fundamental shift in software development.”

The most popular tools used in the report included ChatGPT (46%), GitHub Copilot (30%), and Google Bard, now known as Gemini (19%).

Docker’s report illustrates that a significant number of workers are experimenting with generative AI to help automate day-to-day tasks. In this sense, the findings suggest that AI is augmenting human productivity rather than replacing human workers.

How Developers React to Generative AI

While there are some grumblings about generative AI (which we will look at in further detail below), most developers seem positive about the technology’s contributions to their day-to-day lives.

For instance, 65% of respondents viewed AI positively, with 61% saying it makes their job easier and 55% saying it allows them to focus on more important tasks.

A high number also recognized its importance — with 40% citing generative AI and 38% selecting AI assistants for software engineering as the most important industry trends in software development. In short; many developers are seeing the value in adopting generative AI.

The report said:

“The uptake of AI tools such as ChatGPT, GitHub Copilot, and Bard [now Gemini] among developers is a testament to AI’s value in the development process.

“Moreover, the growing interest in machine learning engineering and data science within the Docker community signals a broader acceptance and integration of AI technologies.”

While AI is sometimes criticized for writing poor-quality code, this doesn’t seem to have held back developers from experimenting with it on a supervised basis.

This suggests that combining human oversight and automated workflows is a must for getting the most out of these solutions.

Taking a Look at the Generative AI Skeptics

Of course, not all developers are AI advocates. Many respondents have a more skeptical attitude toward the technology, with 23% saying they see AI as a job threat, and 19% believing it complicates their jobs.

The survey reflects broader concerns among workers that the adoption of AI will inevitably lead to job losses due to automation. Unfortunately, there appears to be some truth to these criticisms, with analyst firms like McKinsey warning that some jobs will be lost to AI.

It is important to note that due to its high-stakes nature, it is unclear how resistant software development is to automation. The same goes for the number of new jobs that will be created by AI and whether jobs will simply change — for instance, developers needing to develop new AI-specific skills.

For many respondents, there was clearly no concern that their jobs would be at risk anytime soon — with 45% feeling that AI might be overhyped in the industry.

The report speculates that “respondents may be viewing AI as a critical and useful tool for their work, but they’re not too worried about the hype of it replacing them anytime soon.”

Dr. Julia Wilson, UX researcher at Docker, told Techopedia:

“I think this represents a change in the very nature of how we approach and consider developer productivity, and the core workflows of software development.

“AI is still a young and growing field, and what we’re seeing from the survey is that it’s already pretty inextricably linked with developer workflows. Software development is a massively complex, creative, and conceptually-rich field.

“I’d expect AI is going to continue allowing developers to spend their time solving increasingly creative and complicated problems, particularly as advances in AI make it more reliable and accurate.”

The Bottom Line

Software developers are experimenting with generative AI to help automate mundane tasks. While it doesn’t necessarily live up to the hype all the time, this research indicates that many are finding it useful for integrating into their workflows.

Above all, this report indicates that large language models (LLMs) in their current form are not sophisticated enough to replace human workers in professions like software development and still require oversight to be used effectively.

But considering it is less than two years since ChatGPT opened up this new era, followed swiftly by hundreds of bespoke AI tools, the revolution seems to change almost by the day.

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