Our experience, wisdom and moaning from our experience in websites over the years

AI and web development

Mar 29, 2023

Web advice

Could Artificial Intelligence replace web developers?

Sure it could, just like automation replaced accountants and robots have replaced warehouse workers….

The relentless advance of technology is something none of us can stand in the way of; the only wise course of action for a web developer or programmer is to get familiarised with the AI tools and how best to exploit them.

Because automation just became tools for accountants, and various robots and robotey tools have become useful to reduce backbreaking work or hours of finding products.

Artificial Intelligence

The key phrase being “artificial”

A woman sends her programmer husband to the store to get a loaf of bread and as he steps out the front door, she exclaims:

“Oh and if they have eggs, get a dozen!”

Half an hour later he returns home with a dozen loaves of bread. She goes nuclear “What the hell is wrong with you? Why did you get a dozen loaves of bread?”

The husband replies “They had eggs”

Computers are dumb

AI is only as good as it's maintained

I mean really dumb.

Computers are fast and can solve incredibly complex calculations in no time…. if we tell them exactly how to do it…..

Imagine telling a child what to do, that’s what it’s like using HTML which is what this page is largely made of. Now imagine the child is taller, and stronger, and faster etcetera etcetera. For every capability a program gets, the more you have to strain to steer it in the right direction and integrate with other programs. That is like HTML and CSS.

Now imagine the child is blindfolded, deaf, drunk and concussed. Try and make that child operate a door handle. That child will run into the door again and again and even into traffic without a single thought. That’s how intelligent “artificial intelligence” is. The program/child isn’t any better, you just have more and more adults around the child to stop it getting killed, mainly by itself.

Programming and coding hasn’t changed conceptually in, well……. forever really. When you look at the code behind a program it’s fairly simple conceptually.

Sure all the colours, functions and different terminology looks impressive but when it comes down to it, the functions and things it can do are only things we tell it to do.

But what about machine learning?

Machine learning will only teach itself what we tell it to teach itself, and even then it’s problematic. The more complex and powerful something is, the more it’s going to cause headaches.

It DOES NOT “think”!

The code for Chat GPT is one called “python” and as far as I’m aware, python isn’t capable of abstract thought any more now than it was in 1991. Nor is it any more impressive than most other languages which are more the same than they are different.

When you become a programmer, you become aware of how simple code actually is, there’s just a lot of it and it’s down to human problem solving to make the functions interact.

Coding isn’t any more impressive than it was twenty years ago. They have extra functions and stuff but these are just expanded upon earlier concepts. That’s why we see AI providing copywriting and little else, the art is fascinating I grant you. However even that is operating within parameters set by a human and the machine will never deviate from that for all eternity, so long as it has electricity.

Humans are dumb

Remember calculating mathematical problems in school? It’s a lot easier with a calculator or even a computer.

But humans are capable of abstract thought and self-autonomy, something that is not on the horizon for AI. Some say that at the rate AI is progressing it’s going to come within the next 5/10/15/20 years, delete as appropriate.

This is b*****ks, we ourselves don’t understand self-awareness and haven’t got the first idea of how to interpret or theorise about it, let alone create it.

The more complicated a program is, the more it’s prone to breaking. If you think it’s a case of getting the program to self-diagnose and “heal” itself, it’s only going to do it so far as you tell it to, even with machine learning.

If there is a slightly different problem, it will ignore it unless it is explicitly told to react to such things. Even if that inaction causes it’s own destruction, because it does no capacity to think or care.

Should we forget about AI?

I’m not saying that, I’m saying you should treat is as an advanced search engine because really, that’s all it is. Sorry to burst your bubble.

When you consider ChatGPT is just pulling information from a database of information collected from the internet, it’s pretty obvious that it just cuts down on time searching through search results.

So far, copywriting is the only use case I’ve seen any sort of good results for AI. They’re sketchy even at that, I toyed about with a couple of premium, paid AI tools for writing content and often I found myself editing most of the content anyway.

By the way, I’m a web developer so I’m not precious or biased about copywriting, it would actually make my life easier.

Is it good for writing content?

It’s pretty much the only plausible use case I’ve seen for artificial intelligence. There are ways and means of using the AI programs to write content but even that shows how stupid AI is objectively. To use it consistently, you have to learn how to hold it’s hand and stop it walking into things over and over again.

For now, copywriters can try and use it to their advantage but I see no possibility of artificial intelligence replacing them.

Will it get better?

Who knows, but like I said the concepts of code are the same as they’ve always been. The more capable a program is of acting autonomously, the more potential it’s going to have to wreck itself.

Consider weaponry, a Roman Legionary only needed a whetstone and some basic tools to maintain his sword, pilum and shield. As technology advances, the requirements for maintenance increase exponentially. Maintaining any aircraft takes countless industries, in-house personnel, outsourcing, time and resources to maintain even the simplest aircraft.

So for a computer program to advance to any state where it’s waltzing around in a leather jacket with an Austrian accent and looking for Sarah Connor is un-imaginable. The only accurate part of Terminator 2 was when they had to turn him off and on again to fix him.

A “terminator” program would be as likely to shoot a poster or vaguely human shaped piece of foliage as it would be the actual human being it’s been tasked to eliminate.

Computers are as dumb as they’ve always been and the only thing keeping them going is us.

SARA CANNA? No? Windows needs to report a problem…….

So where to now?

I’ll place a wager with anyone now that AI will become yesterday’s news in a few months. AI is here to stay and it is useful as a content writing tool. However this will likely be where it ends. The next few years will determine where exactly AI can be utilised and even then it will become a tool, replacing only a few people’s jobs. There may even be in some web agencies a specialist for AI exploitation.

What about web development?

Look, web development has had plenty of instances where developers were being taunted with a Starbucks apron and scary “ooooOOOooo” noises. AI won’t even replace DIY builders such as Wix or Squarespace and even those are poor tools for any sort of functional online business.

AI can produce some code, and when I say produce I mean it provides it in as much the same way as a search engine will. However there are almost ALWAYS going to be conflicts and you will need a web developer for that.

90% of a web developer’s job is fixing problems from code that was obtained from exactly the same places as AI will get it’s information.

I can’t wait to hear someone who’s not a web developer say they’re going to AI a website so I can laugh myself silly at them. You can get a small snippet of code and that’s about it, it may improve a little. What you need to remember is it’s just acting like a search engine with a couple of parameters thrown in for good measure.

I would sooner Google some website code than use an AI tool. There will be one or two people generating a simple website and I have no doubt there are going to be – if there aren’t already – idiots on YouTube showcasing a website they made with AI. Which will undoubtedly be their twentieth attempt at making a website and they will pretend this iteration is the first attempt and that they hadn’t prepared this spiel earlier.

“I’ve seen a guy generating code using AI for WooCommerce”.

Yeah I saw that video too, it’s the exact same snippet of code AND instructions from the WooCommerce website where it provides it’s documentation and examples. GOOGLE!

For now, I will continue to dedicate a little bit of time here and there to see if AI can make my job any easier, and as of yet I haven’t been able to find a good use case.

Thanks for reading

Rant over


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