The Death of the Junior Developer, by Steve Yegge, June 24, 2024

a lot of people picked a bad year to be a junior developer. A whole lot of people. I wouldn't want to be just getting started in the industry today.

Not just the computer industry. Any industry. It's a bad year to be a junior anything.

First example is of a law firm:

Increasingly, they need only senior associates, who (a) describe the tasks to be done; i.e., create the prompts, and (b) review the resulting work for accuracy and correctness. The high-end LLMs do so well with tasks normally fielded by junior associate lawyers, that there isn't much room left for the real junior associates on payroll.

Writing and editorial jobs:

Market forces are nudging everyone towards having senior writers who are also good prompt engineers: An arrangement that meets all of their needs faster and cheaper than hiring junior humans.

(Gene) estimates using an LLM as a writing tool gets him there 2-3x faster now, helping him meet his personal requirements and quality bar.

On to programming:

Since then I've found several other super amazing colleagues who have also adopted this coding strategy to accelerate themselves. And frankly it has been a bit of a relief to hear confirmation coming from so many great people that chat-first programming is indeed a New Thing.

Chat-based programming, which I will preemptively label Chat Oriented Programming (CHOP) or just "chop", because I suspect I'll be to be saying it a lot, is a brand-spanking new phenomenon. Like, seriously, just over a month old. I first noticed it when GPT-4o came out, which was mid-May.

Programming this way is arguably on its way to being an order of magnitude speedup from completions-based programming. A 10x improvement might sound like an exaggeration. But we just saw examples from legal practice, publishing, and data science in the same ballpark, with 5-30x speedups for certain kinds of tasks, and estimates of at least 2-3x overall boost to productivity.

I wrote this post a week ago and have been thinking hard about whether I believe the premise, which is that within a few years, the norm for source code will be that it is written and modified by LLMs via prompting. For all practical purposes, all source code will be written this way, with exceptions becoming ever rarer.

Not only do I believe it, I could even see it happening in 12-18 months at the current rate of LLM progress.

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