Why Junior Programmers Should Not Rely on AI

2 min readApr 24, 2024
A white robot with AI written on its chest looking at a blue laptop
Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

Here’s a hot take: “Junior Developers should not rely on AI.” Why? Because it prevents them from forming good habits. Coding is a creative activity that requires you to think, and AI trains you to not think. Over time, you become a mindless drone that waits for AI’s autosuggestions before writing a single line of code. That inevitably causes skill issues.

What’s a good analogy to describe this? In terms of working out, using AI for coding is like using steroids for bodybuilding. You can achieve results fast, but you sacrifice your foundation for the long run. When strengthening your body the natural way, you have to be diligent in your workouts, diet, and regime. But with PEDs, you don’t have to train as hard to bulk up, but you’ll eventually have to pay the price due to side effects.

So instead of learning how to write good code, you’re taught to wait for the AI overlord to give you the answer — whether it’s right or wrong. Instead of learning how to debug issues and fix your mistakes, you’re conditioned like Pavlov’s dog to wait until Copilot serves the solution on a silver platter. This leads me to the following question.

“Why are you in this industry if you’re avoiding the act of coding?” Given the 10,000-Hour Rule, only practice makes perfect. If you’re unwilling to struggle and do the hard work, then you should be pursuing something else. To be a professional means having experience. And to have experience means spending the time to acquire it. Would you trust an AI to operate on your body, or a surgeon with a career spanning over a decade? The answer is obvious. If you aren’t willing to treat this like a job, then you should reconsider your options.

So does this mean using AI is bad? Of course not. AI can be invaluable for those who have the experience. If you’re a Senior Developer who understands the ins and outs of a system, then AI can improve your productivity of menial tasks and chores. For experts, AI doesn’t eliminate thinking but speeds it up.

But if you’re a Junior Developer entering this industry, my recommendation is to avoid relying on AI until you become a Mid-Level Engineer. Then you won’t be using AI as a crutch, but as a performance enhancer.