Learn to code: Despite what detractors say, coding is the new literacy

Photo: Shutterstock
Here’s why programming — unlike plumbing — is an important skill that everyone should learn: programming is how humans talk to machines.

People have been managing other people for thousands of years. Now we get work done by managing machines.

Think about it — every day, humans make 3.5 billion Google searches. Machines carry out that work — not humans.

TripAdvisor helps you decide where to go for vacation. Expedia helps you book the right flight to get there. Google Maps directs you to the airport. All of these services are within the reach of average consumers thanks to the hard work of machines.

That means coding

Coding isn’t some niche skill. It really is “the new literacy”

It’s the essential 21st-century skill that every ambitious person needs to learn if they want to succeed.

And that’s to say nothing of the 3 million Americans whose jobs primarily involve driving a car, and billions of people worldwide who do other repetitive tasks that will soon be handled more inexpensively and effectively by machines.

Program or be programmed

We have a concept in software development called “the technology steamroller.”

You can’t stop technology. You can only adapt to it.

Once a history-shaping new technology comes out of the genie bottle, you can’t put it back. This was true for airplanes, antibiotics, and nuclear warheads. And it’s true for microprocessors, the internet, and machine learning.

Those who adapt to these permanent waves of change flourish. Those who shrug them off — or fail to even realize they exist — asymptotically approach irrelevance.

Ships are meant for sailing

Computers, at their core, are number crunching machines.

Human brains, at their core, are learning machines.

It may seem like you’ll never be able to code. It may seem like you’re just not wired for it.

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel