Improving Testing through Automation and AI: An Interview with Tariq King


In this interview, Tariq King, the director of test engineering at Ultimate Software, discusses how we can innovate and make our testing better through smarter automation and the use of artificial intelligence.

Jennifer Bonine: All right, we are back with another interview. I'm really excited. Tariq, thanks for joining me.

Tariq King: Thank you.

Jennifer Bonine: This is the first time I've had you in my little stage set here.

Tariq King: Yes.

Jennifer Bonine: So I'm excited. For folks out there who haven't seen you before or maybe missed this lightning keynote, I've heard it's recorded.

Tariq King: Yes.

Jennifer Bonine: So they can maybe go watch it again. Why don't you tell us a little bit about what you talked about?

Tariq King: Yeah, so I talked a little bit about the fact that there's been a lot of chatter about testing, and the evolution of testing, and like, testing is dead. Testing is something that is shifting from more of a black box perspective into more developers and we're blurring that role. Then over the years, how that has kind of caused us to be confused about whether or not automation is really automation and that testing is merely an exploratory thing. So everyone seems to have a lot of confusion around testing.

I really made a call to innovate, and the thing is that if we really think about testing and how it really requires us to be independently thinking creative, can we think of a future where we have systems that actually can test themselves? Is that too big of a dream? We put a man on the moon. We had the Wright brothers fly. Are those things bigger dreams or smaller dreams than just kind of solving this problem?

So I really made a call to innovation to see how well we could get together to think of different ideas and really put those into practice, and take testing and what is automated testing from this small checking and verification into, can we use machine learning, artificial intelligence? Can we leverage all that research to make testing better?

Jennifer Bonine: From that perspective of machine learning and artificial intelligence, I know you made the call to the audience. What have you seen in terms of that in your own experience, or things that maybe you're looking into around that or your interest in that?

Tariq King: Yeah, well, actually, I did my PhD dissertation on self-testing adaptive systems and really integrating testing into software that can dynamically change components or self-configure or self-heal. That was the core of my research, but more recently Ultimate Software has really been looking at—that's the company that I work for now—looking at ways that we can innovate and try to see if we can really push that barrier. So we're starting to do research in this area, and I know there's a couple others out there, Jason Arbon from Appdiff, he's doing quite a bit on using AI to do testing. We've had some great conversations on that as well, so we're trying to stir up the community to see if we can start doing a lot more in this space.

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