The upcoming software explosion

May 9, 2023

Creating software today is slow, expensive, and difficult. Only a limited number of people possess the skills to do so. As a result there’s an undersupply of useful software in the world, particularly software tailored to individual needs.

Large language models are particularly good at writing code, likely due to its highly structured nature. Developers now routinely use LLM code completion tools like Copilot which generate up to 80% of the code they write. Some people even create full-fledged apps from mostly prompts and lightweight debugging. We're fast approaching a point where apps and services can be created from a mere description, without any knowledge of coding.

As software creation becomes more accessible, we’ll see an explosion in the amount of software in the world. There are 25 million software developers today but over 3 billion people online - that’s a 100-fold potential increase in the number of software creators. Photos and videos are ubiquitous ever since mobile phones put cameras in every pocket. LLMs will make new software ubiquitous too.

In this new world, we should expect software to be cheap and plentiful. We'll constantly create new software to solve new problems or modify the software we use to adapt to our specific needs. We’ll all become developers in the way that we’ve all become photographers. We won't even reuse most of the software we make, just like we don't look at most of the photos we take.

What will the software creation tools of the future look like? What new categories of apps will emerge once there are over a billion developers? Let me know via Twitter.