Will Coding Still Be Relevant in a Decade?

Students learn how to code at an Apple Store through Apple’s Hour of Code workshop program on Dec. 9, 2015, in New York City.

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

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Answer by Hadi Partovi, CEO, Code.org; tech entrepreneur/investor:

Absolutely. Not only will coding be relevant in 10 years, it will be more relevant than it is today. However, the syntax of coding languages will continue becoming easier. When it started, coding was about holes in pieces of cardboard. Then it looked like this: 00101010101. It now looks a lot more like English. As coding languages become more English-like, they will be easier to learn, less arcane, and thus more popular. And as computing systems permeate our lives, telling these devices what we want them to do, and inventing new uses for them, will continue to be more popular.

However, we have a long way to go (many many decades) before being able to speak to computers in plain, natural language and having them understand perfectly and perform complex tasks they’ve never been trained to do. Simple, pre-programmed tasks are already available, such as “give me directions to the nearest gas station.”

But to teach a computer to do something it never has before will still require specialized understanding of how to communicate with the specificity of a computer programmer, as well as the computational thinking needed to describe an algorithm. The syntax of how to design a loop or a conditional for a computer to do something or make a decision—that syntax may change, but the fundamental concepts underneath are unlikely to go away for many many decades.