Software professional Afsana Atar believes that the advent of AI is not something one needs to fear if we are prepared for it.
The IT industry in India, which thrived primarily as an outsourcing destination for the global market, might be in for another serious hurdle in the form of artificial intelligence.
Industry expert Afsana Atar talks about the effect AI will have on the software industry.
Atar is an author and software professional with over 10 years of experience, with expertise in software testing and analytics with various MNCs.
Excerpts from an interview:
How is AI going to impact the software industry?
AI is already a game changer. We have seen its power in Google’s Duplex, which accomplished a real-world task of making natural conversations with humans. We also have self-driving cars and AI beating us in games — tasks which were once impossible to achieve by a computer program. These advancements in artificial intelligence are changing the way industries will work and function.
The IT industry in India receives work from the world but most of it can be easily automated. The major functions in the software industry fall in one of these three buckets: software development, software testing or DevOps and support. Automation already has influenced software testing and DevOps, but now with AI, we are seeing implementations that can inspect requirements, develop code, detect bugs and provide fixes for the defects as well.
Although still in early phases, we can see more jobs becoming obsolete, especially the ones that are labour-intensive and repetitive.
How can the industry brace against this impact?
The industry needs to re-invent itself. It needs to re-focus its efforts to lead innovation rather than remain a cost centre. India has the talent to perform this transformation. The industry needs to invest in research to develop products and automate the outsourcing businesses themselves to remain competitive in the world market. This might seem like an arms-race of sorts, the only difference being the race is to create the best algorithm to drive AI. We need to produce more products and solutions to solve world problems if we want to remain a relevant player in the global market.
What does it mean for the software professional? How do you prepare for the change?
I know this might seem contradictory, but the new AI age is going to be more promising for the software professional. Although it will make certain jobs obsolete, AI will also give rise to new jobs. The machine learning engineer and tester will be the new breed of professionals who will usher in more advanced implementations of AI in future. Even managerial and leadership roles will be assisted by artificial intelligence pushing for further efficiencies in decision making and project management. Education and awareness are key to remaining relevant in the industry.
My extensive experience has led me to believe that the software professional needs to invest in learning new technologies, understanding their business domains and processes. Being curious and inquisitive has helped me evolve in my career and being passionate about the job produced the necessary drive to remain motivated. I also believe in organisational learning and have mentored several professionals over the years.
You are an international author and released a new book recently. Would you like to share some bits about it?
Yes, I have published in international magazines and online journals before. The new book Hands-On Test Management with JIRA will be coming out this month. You can buy a copy on Amazon. This is one of the ways in which I help share the knowledge I have gained over the years. It provides a hands-on step-by-step approach to implement test management and a bonus chapter on how test automation and DevOps work in tandem in the industry.