New York Time Article
No-Code’ Brings the Power of A.I. to the Masses
A growing number of new products allow anyone to apply artificial intelligence without having to write a line of computer code. Proponents believe the “no-code” movement will change the world.
By Craig S. Smith
March 15, 2022
The adults I grew up with had to write machine code to made the disk drives they just got out of the crates from IBM, for example. For my entire career up through the mid-nineties, you had to know hundreds of typed commands to get anything done. That started to change with the Macintosh (my dad coined “the Macintosh Test” as whether you could switch the machine on and the next thing you saw was a pictograph shaped like a typewriter).
It started to change on a large scale with Windows95 and 98, but the ability to process Japanese seamlessly didn’t come until much later.
My friend/boss Allan and I half-lamented WindowsNT, which allowed one to actually do a lot of system admin tasks through a point-and-click interface. Basically, it enabled people who didn’t know what the fuck they were doing and didn’t understand the concepts or how the underlying commands worked could accomplish real tasks.
Smartphones are this on steroids, of course.
Having said all that, IBM tried to accomplish what WindowsNT did in the early 90s on a Unix workstation with AIX, which was widely regarded as a disaster. “I no longer fear Hell—I administer AIX.” I always though the name was apt—“AIIIIIIIIIIIIIX!!!”
I also used an ALOE for Pascal at Carnegie Mellon in 1985. “A Language-Oriented Editor” which made it impossible to make syntax errors, the most low-level and agonizing aspect of coding.
That GitHub Copilot thing sounds great 👍🏻 I find Git to be infuriating.
So nothing new in the “no code” department. I think that once any technology (remember hand-cranked cars? 🚗) reaches a certain level of maturity and the possibility of mass appeal looms large, “parameterizing the user interface” becomes the next step.
The fact that it’s finally happening for “AI” (pattern recognition and data-mining, more like) is interesting.
One huge breakthrough was menus back in the mid-80s, or a bit before. The impact is hard to overstate. Just a simple menu instead of hundreds of memorized commands (CLI). At the time I had to write my own menu systems, including mouse 🐁 interactions.
All those things we take for granted, going from CLU to GUI and having actual X-Windows and MS-Windows libraries to work from, changed everything, but it’s all just another layer on top of the same old stuff.
Did you ever wonder why a personal driver is called a “chauffeur”? 🚗 🔥
I don’t know, but “chauffer” means “to heat up”. So I can’t help thinking it was mainly about getting the car started and getting/keeping it warmed up. Which suggests how cars used to work rather differently one upon a time.
Just like in a generation or two hence, people will not wonder why we “dial” a phone 📞 Even though there will be no living memory of that making sense. So it is with technology, I think.
Do we still “sign on” or “log on” to our smartphones?