As we reflect on the evolving landscape of technology, the future of programming becomes an increasingly relevant topic. With the swift advancement of artificial intelligence (AI), it appears inevitable that AIs will eventually shoulder most programming tasks. In this context, Rust or a language similar to it, emerges as a strong contender for the future of programming.

The world has changed

In the AI-driven programming world, the reliance on human effort will significantly diminish, alleviating the necessity to compromise on infrastructure costs, performance, security, and environmental impact. Rust offers a promising solution, providing zero-cost guarantees concerning memory-safety and thread-safety. This advantage allows for the prevention of various bug classes at the compile-time stage itself.

Prior to March of 2023 (GPT-4 release), I had been following along with the Rust community from the sidelines. As a CTO building SaaS products, I'd decided that Rust was great, but ultimately too much training overhead and cost for many businesses building web applications. Instead I would have recommended Go, .NET, or something on the JVM like Java/Scala/Kotlin.

What comes next?

As humans, we'll still require a programming language abstraction that remains intelligible and auditable! Rust caters to this need, facilitating human-AI collaboration to develop safer and more efficient software. While Rust undoubtably won't represent the final stage of programming language evolution, it serves as an essential stepping stone towards future innovation, much of which will be propelled by AI.

When it comes to software development, AIs leverage the same benefits from abstractions as humans do, such as enhanced productivity, safety, and reusability across different hardware platforms. I expect that AIs will innovate not only in the software realm but also in the hardware domain. The result is likely to be an array of specialized hardware tailored to various industries and use cases, driven by the ingenuity of AI.

Bring it on!

Will other programming languages persist alongside Rust or its successors? The answer is a resounding yes. Factors like commercial competition, nostalgia, and the sheer joy of programming will ensure the continued existence of multiple languages. However, the most significant obstacle to innovation may remain human in nature, as we grapple with standardisation and power struggles within countries and corporations.

One thing is undeniably certain – the journey ahead promises to be fascinating and awe-inspiring. With Rust or similar languages at the forefront, we can anticipate a more efficient, secure, and sustainable programming landscape, driven by the unparalleled potential of AI.