Examining the Impact of AI on Software Testing: A Conversation with Jeff Payne and Jason Arbon

[interview]
Summary:

In the software community, the emergence of AI has stoked thoughts of both possibility and concern about its impact. For software testers, the critical questions swirling around AI are: “What is the future of testing in a world of AI? Will testers become obsolete?” Coveros CEO Jeff Payne talked with testing and AI expert and CEO of TestersAI, Jason Arbon, to find out what the emergence of AI means for the testing and software community.

What will be the impact of AI? It’s a question being asked in nearly every industry and every walk of life. 

In the software community, the emergence of AI has stoked thoughts of both possibility and concern about its impact. For software testers, the critical questions swirling around AI are: “What is the future of testing in a world of AI? Will testers become obsolete?”

In a recent conversation, Coveros CEO Jeff Payne talked with testing and AI expert and CEO of TestersAI, Jason Arbon, to find out what the emergence of AI means for the testing community and the software industry more broadly. 

The bottom line according to Jason? AI will make testers more vital than ever before. 

Here are a few key highlights from the conversation. 

1. According to Jason, the reaction to AI by the testing community has been underwhelming.

Before looking to the future, it’s important to understand what’s going on in the present. For Jason, the current response to AI by testers has largely been underwhelming. 

As Jason says: “The deepest thinkers in testing or people that claim to be the deepest thinkers in testing—the most vocal—are often just experimenting with it but looking for ‘gotchas.’ Oh, it can actually solve world peace, but it can’t multiply two 10-digit numbers. . . The best testers should do the complete opposite thing. They should think holistically about the system, how it’s useful, and think about what to test, and think about testing in terms of scaling, testing, and sampling these types of things.”


2. The emergence of AI is a great opportunity for testers to rethink everything.

So if testers are focusing on the wrong thing when it comes to AI, what should they be focusing on?

According to Jason: “The real opportunity here is for people to rethink everything. So, they’re taking their traditional testing codes and frameworks and adding little bits of AI to it. That’s what usually happens in transitions. That will happen incrementally over a couple of years. But, what I think we’re missing now is that this is radically transformative technology. So, how do you apply it wholesale? You build software radically differently.” 


3. After the AI revolution, “testers will be the last people standing.“

For testers worried about how AI will affect their jobs, Jason says even with the emergence of AI, testers will be needed to the end.

Jason Arbon: “I think testers will be the last people standing.”

Jeff Payne: “Not the first? So software testing isn’t dead?”

Jason Arbon: “You can generate software. You can generate code. You can build apps. You can do all this stuff. The problem is knowing whether it’s the right thing. And the more code you generate, the more it needs to be tested. I think it’s a great thing for testing, because there’s a lot more stuff to be tested. It’s more sophisticated and we have to scale it up. The testers will be the last ones to say, ‘Yep, this is the final build.’”


4. In the future, testers will be asking some of the most important questions for humanity.

What is Jason’s vision of testers in the future? He says the best testers will be even more critical and will ask some of the most important questions we can ask, beyond simply does code work. 

According to Jason: “I think that probably, 80–90 percent of what we do today as testers will just be done by what we’ll call the platforms, meaning Google, Microsoft, and whoever else emerges as a platform—maybe OpenAI or something . . . and you can do this with ChatGPT where you can say, ‘What tests should I execute for?’ and it will give you a list of test cases. It’s not that hard to imagine that you can go, ‘Well generate the code for that test.’ In 19 years, really the best testers—the people who are really good at what they do—will be some of the most valuable on the planet. They’ll be doing this still where they’ll go, ‘Is this the right system? Is this the right thing for the company? But, even more importantly, for humanity?’”


Watch the full conversation with Jason Arbon and Jeff Payne,
here.

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