India Outsourcing Over In 2 Years!
Written by Mike James   
Wednesday, 19 July 2023

The boss of Stability  AI claims that the end of outsourcing is on the horizon due to the rise of large language models which will take over the jobs.

Of course, he would say that wouldn't he? Stability AI, which is best known for Stable Diffusion which will generate images from text descriptions, isn't well known for code-generating foundational models but it has just announced its first LLM (Large Language Model). Clearly  CEO Emad Mostaque has a stake in the future of AI and LLMs in particular. He is also notable for saying:

"AI is a $1 trillion investment opportunity, but will be (the) biggest bubble of all time".

Programmers across the world are concerned and a little bit worried about the rise of the AI copilots. You can ask a LLM to write you a code snippet to do something and at the moment they more or less get it right. It's impressive until you look a little deeper and discover that there is some security flaw or some out-of-date component. So far it seems that the level of coding achieved isn't such that you don't need a programmer to check it and as such many programmers are relaxed about copilots and use them to speed up their coding.

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However, outsourcing is different and no single country would be affected as much as India with its estimated 5 million coders. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is the largest Indian outsourcing provider and it has declared that in the future it is taking a "machine first" approach and that the advance of LLMs has made this progress even faster.

The effect of AI isn't going to be even across countries. Where there are strict labour laws firing a programmer is harder and costly and so outsourcing is where the cuts are easy to make. Even so it is clear that it is not just India that is going to feel the effect of AI there is outsourcing support across much of Europe but not so much as India.

With designers and senior programmers already happy with outsourcing the actual  coding to level 3 programmers, often classified as "intermediate" or just out of a CS degree course, the change could be rapid. Given that to outsource a task a presumably more skilled programmer has first to work out what the task is and specify it, it seems less of a jump to getting a copilot to do the task rather than a human. It could even prove more efficient than trying to write a specification or establish good communications. 

For as long as I have been involved with programming, the catchword "deskilling" has been passed around by anyone with the need to get a program written. At first the idea was that structured programming would make things so simple that an idiot could do it, then various "methods", many of which are still around today, entered the scene. Not to mention all of the various program generators - the most infamous being "The Last One". Despite all the effort programming has remained firmly skilled. Now we have the prospect that coding might be deskilled as a byproduct of the search for general AI.

It could be that outsourcing will be the first casualty of the AI programming revolution.

More Information

Most outsourced coders in India will be gone in 2 years due to A.I., Stability AI boss predicts

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 19 July 2023 )