[Question] When will computer programming become an unskilled job (if ever)?

I expect for there to be a delay in deployment, but I think ultimately OpenAI is aiming as a near term goal to automate intellectually difficult portions of computer programming. Personally, as someone just getting into the tech industry, this is basically my biggest near-term concern, besides death. At what point might it be viable for most people to do most of what skilled computer programmer does with the help of a large language model, and how much should this hurt salaries and career expectations?

Some thoughts:

  • It will probably be less difficult to safely prompt a language model for an individual “LeetCode” function than to write a that function by hand within the next two years. Many more people will be able to do the former than could ever do the latter.

  • Yes, reducing the price of software engineering means more software engineering will be done, but it would be extremely odd if this meant software engineer salaries stayed the same, and I expect regulatory barriers to limit the amount that the software industry can grow to fill new niches.

  • Architecture seems difficult to automate with large language models, but a ridiculous architecture might be tolerable in some circumstances if your programmers are producing code at the speed GPT4 does.

  • Creativity is hard to test, and if former programmers are mostly now hired based on their ability to “innovate” or have interesting psychological characteristics beyond being able to generate code I expect income and jobs to shift away from people with no credentials and skills to people with lots of credentials and political acumen and no skills

  • At some point programmers will be sufficiently automated away that the singularity is here. This is not necessarily a comforting thought.

Edit: Many answers contesting the basic premise of the old title, “When will computer programming become an unskilled job?” The title of the post has been updated accordingly.