The release of ChatGPT and other natural language AI initiatives has generated a great deal of hype, excitement and scepticism. We share the belief of many others that ChatGPT’s release will go down as a defining moment in history and that these technologies will revolutionize the way we work, particularly in the field of information technology.
Observing our software developers’ response to ChatGPT’s release has been interesting. Some have tested and embraced it as a valuable tool in their field, while others appear to be somewhat cautious about its potential impact.
Where we have been able to see immediate benefit on using ChatGPT is with our younger, less experienced software developers and interns. Junior developers often seek the time and code review feedback provided by senior developers, as this is the ideal way for them to learn, but in reality, senior developers in South Africa are often too preoccupied with production tasks to offer this level of mentorship.
By submitting self-contained code sections to ChatGPT for review and refactoring, junior developers now have access to a virtual senior software developer 24/7. This outcome provides them with refactored code to compare with their own, as well as notes from ChatGPT explaining why certain changes were made.
As a company rule, we strongly discourage them from copying and pasting refactored ChatGPT code to replace their own. But we do see value in highlighting differences between the two sets of code and the reasons provided by ChatGPT. In this way, they can question the changes, identify the benefits, and learn from the experience.
Moreover, we also encourage our senior developers to use ChatGPT to accelerate their coding tasks by requesting the platform to generate certain code snippets or functions to save valuable time.