“The robots are coming and they’re going to take our jobs!”

The emergence of AI and machine learning has upended how software leaders and practitioners think about their work, creating a mix of panic and excitement across our industry.

While software testers are not immune from fear of what AI might mean for their careers, they should look at AI as an opportunity. That’s according to Tariq King, CEO of Test IO and an expert in software testing and AI. 

I recently sat down with Tariq for a forward-thinking discussion on the future of AI-driven testing and test automation. It was a great conversation in which we outlined the reasons for testers to be hopeful about AI and its effect on their work. 

Here are some key takeaways from the conversation:

1. Even the best AI and machine learning models need human review and validation.

Anyone who’s worked with GenAI platforms like ChatGPT or more specialized software tools like GitHub Copilot can attest to the speed and power of these models to answer questions and create code and test scripts. But like anything, these models are not perfect – and in some cases, their output can be flat wrong. 

That’s why it’s vital for humans to review, verify, and validate the output of AI models to ensure what they are producing is accurate and addresses the problems they’ve been designed to solve. Testers have a vital role in this process.

2. Testers will outlast many other software roles, because of their unique skills. 

According to Tariq, the new model of programming being fueled by AI is essentially using data to program machines. And, if that’s the case, testers will have an essential role using their analysis abilities to not only test models but analyze input data to make sure we train models on appropriate datasets.

In this new landscape, testers will also be able to become even more specialized in their work, Tariq says. “I think there’s huge potential for testers to start picking and choosing what area they want to dive into.”

3. To excel in the age of AI, testers should focus on critical thinking and collaboration.

I asked Tariq what skills software testers should focus on in this new, emerging age of AI. For Tariq, the key to success with AI and software development is not a profound understanding of coding, but instead foundational problem-solving skills. That’s why he encourages testers to continue to enhance their critical thinking skills, their ability to communicate and collaborate, and their user empathy understanding and skills. 

4. The future of software automation and AI evolution requires a testing mindset.

According to Tariq, professionals with a testing mindset will be best positioned to manage AI systems that develop software and products. Tariq says there is the potential to have “one-man show” setups wherein one person manages the entire development process from customer input to implementation and technology to post-validation and evolution. But doing so requires testers to gain a holistic view of both AI systems and the software development lifecycle. 

As we enter the AI age, the future for testers seems bright. But to succeed, testers will need to hone their critical thinking and collaboration skills. They will also need to ensure they’re continuously learning about ever-evolving AI technology and machine learning systems to  stay ahead of the curve. 

Watch my full conversation with Tariq here

Join us at AI Con USA

Want to connect with fellow software professionals to better understand the future of AI in software delivery? Join us in Las Vegas on June 2-7 for our newest event, AI Con USA. AI Con USA brings together leading experts, researchers, innovators, and companies from around the globe to explore the latest developments in AI and machine learning. 

We’ll also be providing critical pre-conference training focused on key topics in AI and machine learning:

  • AI for Testers
  • Getting Started with Machine Learning
  • GitHub Copilot for Developers
  • MLOps: DevOps for Machine Learning

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