Despite what the doomsayers claim AI will not replace software engineers

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The advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) including those in large language models (LLMs) have led to profound changes in how we live, work and play, and stoked fears about the future of our livelihoods. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang has even gone as far as declaring that kids no longer need to learn how to code. While AI has certainly transformed society by automating tasks and improving efficiency, there are certain roles that AI will not replace—one of which is the software engineer.

Winston Tang

Founder of LeetCode.

The unique role of software engineers

AI excels in automating repetitive tasks and processing vast amounts of data. It can even generate high-quality code snippets, which might suggest a potential to replace software engineers. However, the essence of software engineering goes beyond mere coding. It involves creativity, problem-solving, and innovation—qualities that AI cannot mimic.

Historically, technological advancements like the printing press did not eliminate roles that required deep knowledge and creativity, but transformed them. Similarly, software engineers leverage AI to enhance their skills but cannot be replaced by it. Their role is akin to that of authors who use tools to better articulate their vision but still rely on their intrinsic creativity and expertise.

The evolving landscape of software engineering

The evolving landscape of the tech field has shown that while the demand for certain technical roles, especially at the entry-level, may decrease due to AI's capabilities, there is an increased need for higher-level skills and a solid foundation in core competencies.

Companies are increasingly seeking engineers who can tackle complex challenges and drive significant impacts. Specialized roles such as AI/ML engineers, data engineers, and computer vision engineers are more in demand than ever.

Supporting software engineers

Providing a platform that helps software engineers refine their essential skills and prepare for advanced roles is crucial. The tech community benefits from the constantly changing demands of the tech landscape, ensuring that engineers stay innovative. Offering a wealth of resources, including algorithmic challenges, mock interviews, and educational content, which empowers engineers to excel in their careers and adapt to new technologies.

While AI serves as a powerful enhancement tool, mastering the fundamentals is crucial—similar to how a chef must understand basic cooking techniques to excel. Ensuring that engineers not only meet but exceed the evolving standards, preparing them for complex and specialized roles.

Beyond technical skills

While technical proficiency is essential, the role of a software engineer extends much further than coding. Software engineers collaborate with cross-functional teams, engage in problem-solving, and drive innovation. These aspects of the job demands emotional intelligence, empathy, a thorough understanding of business contexts, and effective communication skills — qualities that AI cannot replicate.

For instance, when developing user-centric software, understanding user needs and behaviors is crucial. Software engineers use their creativity and empathy to design intuitive and accessible solutions. They also navigate complex social and ethical considerations, ensuring that technology benefits society as a whole. These human-centric tasks underscore the irreplaceable value of software engineers.

Continuous learning and adaptation

The tech industry is dynamic, with new tools, languages, and frameworks emerging regularly. Software engineers must engage in lifelong learning to remain relevant. This continuous learning mindset is intrinsic to the profession and ensures that software engineers are always at the cutting edge of technology. AI, on the other hand, operates within the confines of its predefined datasets and cannot autonomously acquire new knowledge or skills in the same way.

Software engineers are indispensable to the continued growth and development of technology. While AI can enhance their work, it cannot replace the creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration that software engineers bring to the table. The future will see software engineers in higher demand, with an emphasis on strong foundational skills or specialized expertise that drives technological advancement.


AI is a powerful tool that complements the work of software engineers, but it cannot replace them. The unique skills and contributions of software engineers ensure that they remain essential to the advancement of technology and society. As we look to the future, software engineers will continue to play a pivotal role in shaping the world we live in.

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Winston Tang founded LeetCode, a leading platform that helps software engineers enhance their coding skills, in 2015.