I just finished reading Short history of Progress. A great read, and falls nicely into this pseudo hippie/midlife crisis I find myself in.
My extremely limited literary genius tells me that one of the core themes of the book is that throughout the history of man, science has advanced, in occasions too fast for the good of society. Ronald Wright does a nice job of showing this through examples of “progress traps” ie. Babylon fell as a result of their very own success through sophisticated wet agriculture practices leading to increased food yeilds, cities and wealth, but also, eventually salination and death of the soil.
I’ll take a gigantic leap and compare the death of a culture … with advances in programming tools leading to the death of computer scientists, as I recently heard a peer boast.
Ok, that’s a bit extreme … a lot extreme actually … and even more naive. While the likes of auto-generated code, garbage collectors, intellisense, .net and rails frameworks have in many ways, allowed pragmatic and scientific skills to be optional when writing code; much like any other science, advances in the tools allows the scientist to focus on other areas of their domain.
Stating that computer science was dead because of an advanced compiler would be like claiming mechanical engineering was toast because of the invention of the wheel. To me, computer science ultimately comes down to mathematical logic, category theory, domain theory, and algebra. Having an IDE doesn’t help me out in any of these areas.