The Coders Programming Themselves Out of a Job

Atlantic did a great long-form post last week on the programmers quietly automating their own jobs - either entirely or in part.

This was interesting to us at SQLizer because, since we launched the SQLizer API we’ve heard from a handful of users who are doing this kind of thing.

From the Atlantic story:

Someone calling himself or herself Etherable posted a query to Workplace on Stack Exchange, one of the web’s most important forums for programmers: “Is it unethical for me to not tell my employer I’ve automated my job?” The conflicted coder described accepting a programming gig that had turned out to be “glorified data entry”—and, six months ago, writing scripts that put the entire job on autopilot. After that, “what used to take the last guy like a month, now takes maybe 10 minutes.”The job was full-time, with benefits, and allowed Etherable to work from home. The program produced near-perfect results; for all management knew, its employee simply did flawless work.

A support ticket we received a couple of months ago seemed to describe a similar thing:

Thanks for the SQLizer service - I’m using the REST interface to do several of my weekly duties automatically, it’s saving me a day a week

The post goes on to explore the ethics of this - who should reap the rewards of these smart developers’s ingenuity? The programmer or the company?

Gary, the early-’90s self-automator, asked me, “Why is earning money for stockholders more important than employee quality of life? The system shouldn’t be more important than the individuals who helped make that system relevant.”

Finally, as we automate more and more of the workplace, either at an organisational or individual level - are we accelerating the rise of “Bullshit jobs”.