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Goldman Sachs' CIO confirms that English is a new top coding language

If you're wondering which coding language to learn for a software engineering job in banking, Goldman Sachs' CIO Marco Argenti seems to be aligning himself to the people who suggest an advanced knowledge of the English language and an ability to articulate your thoughts clearly and coherently in it, is now up there alongside Python and C++.  

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Writing in Harvard Business Review, Argenti says he's advised his daughter to study philosophy as well as engineering because coding in the age of large language models is partly about the "quality of the prompt." 

"Ambiguous or not well-formed questions will make the AI try to guess the question you are really asking, which in turn increases the probability of getting an imprecise or even totally made-up answer," says Argenti. In the future, he says the most pertinent question won't be "Can you code?," but, “Can you get the best code out of your AI by asking the right question?”.

Asking the right question will partly depend upon being able to articulate yourself in English and that will depend upon, "reasoning, logic, and first-principles thinking," says Argenti. Philosophical thinking skills are suddenly all-important. "I’ve seen people on social media create entire games with just a few skillfully written prompts that in the very recent past would have taken months to develop," he adds. 

Argenti's observations come after he said last year that Goldman's experiments with AI had increased the productivity of some Goldman developers by 40%. Goldman CEO David Solomon said this week that the firm has "a leading team of engineers dedicated to exploring and applying machine learning and artificial intelligence applications," and is focused on enhancing developer productivity.

The prospect of English becoming the new top programming has been gathering steam. The New Yorker recently published a piece on the dying days of the craft of coding now that ChatGPT4 can create programs based on a few "words."

One senior banking technologist (not Argenti) tells us that coding knowledge will still be required, though, but that it will be different. "You'll still need coding expertise," he says. "You'll still need to know whether the code created by the LLM [large language model] is good quality and whether it will do the job you want it to do."

As LLMs take over the legwork of coding, the technology MD says the new most important skills for technology jobs will revolve around systems integration: architects and systems engineers will be needed to fuse systems together. 

In the new world, he predicts that demand will be strongest for people with both linguistic skills and an "engineering mindset." The changes could benefit product teams. They could disadvantage the large teams of cheap software developers currently in low-cost locations like India. 

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Photo by Sonia Dauer on Unsplash


AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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