What does it mean for Shape Up, when AI replaces developers?

In this session, Emad Mostaque predicts that in 5 years, there will be no developers anymore.

Given this hypothesis holds, what does it mean for the development of software products? What does it mean for Shape Up?

I have some thoughts on this topic:

  • Basically, a Package Definition is like a prompt. It is somewhat fuzzy, and the details don’t matter. It does especially not matter if it is a frontend + backend engineer implementing a feature or if it is some new profession that does not write code themself.
  • Even less need for frameworks like Scrum or ticketing systems like Jira, that care mostly about micromanaging developers’ specific tasks.

There is an idea of “transparent user interfaces”, i.e. you write a question or a problem on a sheet of paper, and then put a computer which looks like a transparent glass plate on top of it, and it magically shows you an answer or a solution.

This idea can be extended to “solving” a Shape Up Pitch or Package Definition.

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Do you mean, it puts more emphasis on the shaping part? Because the building is ubiquitous at one point?

There is a difference between one-off solutions (a something that is carried out or made only once, e.g. enterprise software), and products (a something that can be applied for multiple usecases, and/or by many customers). The former fit the transparent UI better that the latter.

Shape Up is a better fit for product-led companies, but products are still compromises between different needs of each individual customer. Maybe in the future when each customer will be able to build a custom solution using nocode/AI/Aliens/etc., there will be no product-led companies anymore.

I think developers will get a huge boost through ai augmentation. I definitly see a future, where there are more often solo devs, working autonomously with the help of AI on a single project.

So Shape Up will be quite valuable in such a future:

  • There is even more emphasis on building the right thing (that is why shaping and especially technical shaping will continue to be valuable)
  • I can see more often teams of just a solo dev working in a cycle
  • I can see scenarios where we see shorter cycles, because people are more effective.

I think no code and AI will augment and displace many traditional software development skill sets and activities, but will have less effect on shaping and even less on discovery. Shaping and discovery and very human and fuzzy.