No, the machines are not taking over.
When it comes to the future of software, it can be easy to picture a world where automation tools go off on their own and start performing all the tasks that humans once performed manually. You might think roles filled by people will start to go obsolete. With the recent news around ChatGPT, the conversation seems to be all about which jobs AI tools will replace. It can all start to sound like Skynet from the Terminator series.
The highest performing dev and test teams know, however, that this is not the reality in which we’re headed. First, no tool today is that autonomous. Second, these teams recognize there are far more powerful ways to leverage automation tools. Instead of replacing job functions, you can use automation to amplify your strength, move faster, and extend your expertise.
In this way, the AMP (Amplified Mobility Platform) Suit from the movie Avatar is a more apt metaphor. Automation is an opportunity, not a threat.
You Can’t Automate Everything
Let’s face it, there are too many ways users interact with your software to keep up with testing manually. You ultimately need automation to keep your UI at top quality.
Automation helps you achieve several benefits: scale, coverage, speed, and even accuracy. But of what? For all automation can do, some things can only be done or understood by a manual tester. For example:
- Product motivation – No amount of AI will be able to understand the business decisions behind why certain features were or were not included in your design. You can only truly test for user experience by knowing what experience you want to deliver in the first place.
- User-centric test creation – developers design for humans, so you need a real human who can think like your user to create tests.
- Bug prioritization – A bug is just a bug to a machine until you can further dictate what you consider a priority.
- Artistry – At the end of the day, developers are creators. Your application is not meant merely to function, it’s meant to engage, and so a real touch is essential.
So, when you are introducing automation, know that it is meant to complement these attributes, not compete with them.
AMP Suit vs Arnold: Who Wins?
Consider the AMP Suit from Avatar, described on the Avatar fandom wiki as a “multi-purpose machine that is able to duplicate all functions of the infantry soldier or civilian worker.” It is a tool, controlled and motivated by a driver, to jump higher, move faster, get stronger, and even to protect.
Counter that with the Terminator which is a sentient cyborg created by AI to overthrow humanity.
Both the AMP Suit and the Terminator offer a different kind of future; one in which people can do more with their tech, and one where that tech tries to take over. So where are we headed? Who wins this fight? If you ask online forums, fans almost universally agree the AMP Suit wins – no contest.
But what about AI? To avoid bias, I asked Google’s Bard what it thinks about who would win in a fight between an AMP Suit and a Terminator robot:
“In a straight-up fight, the AMP Suit would probably have the advantage. It is more agile and has a wider range of weapons. It’s a close call, but I think I would give the edge to the AMP Suit. It is simply more versatile and has a wider range of options.”
There you have it. Even AI would bet against itself in a fight against the AMP Suit!
The point is that automation is not meant to replace jobs performed by people – but to enhance them. Even in fictional settings, tech comes out the best when driven by a person.
Automate Your Artistry
When you think about the future of automation for your organization, think about putting on your AMP Suit. Software tests should be created, executed, and evaluated by people who understand the artistry behind their application and then use automation to enhance and expand upon it.
Otherwise, we end up with the Terminator with soulless robots vying for control. Though even then (spoiler alert), humans win in the end.